Ariadne auf Naxos (Ariadne on Naxos) (Jiří Antonín (Georg) Benda)
  • Jiří Antonín (Georg) Benda. Duodrama in one act. 1775.
  • Text by Johann Christian Brandes, following a cantata by Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg.
  • First performance at Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha, on 27th January 1775.
Ariadne speaking part
Theseus speaking part

In speech accompanied and interrupted by the orchestra, Ariadne awakes on the shore of Naxos, to find herself deserted by the faithless Theseus.

Benda was an important figure in the development of the melodrama, the use of speech with orchestral accompaniment that found a place in, for example, Beethoven’s Fidelio or in Weber’s Der Freischütz (The Marksman) and in many later dramatic works. The form appealed to Mozart, who planned but never wrote a melodrama on the subject of Semiramide. There have been and continue to be strong elements of melodrama in 20th-century cinema.