Happy Talk

Extract from South Pacific (1958), directed by Joshua Logan

Ariadne auf Naxos (1999), an opera by Richard Strauss directed by Marco Arturo Marelli, conducted by Sir Colin Davies at the Dresden Semperoper

The Prologue

At the home of the richest man in Vienna, preparations for a party are underway. Two groups of musicians have arrived; one is a burlesque group, led by the saucy comedienne Zerbinetta, the other an opera company, who will present a serious opera, Ariadne auf Naxos. The preparations are thrown into confusion when the Major-domo announces that both performances must take place at the same time.

At first, the impetuous young Composer refuses to discuss any changes to his opera. But when his teacher, the Music Master, counsels him to be prudent and when Zerbinetta turns the full force of her charm on him, he drops his objections. When he realizes what he has agreed to he storms out in despair.

The Opera

Ariadne has been abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos. She mourns her lost love and longs for death. At this point Zerbinetta and her four companions from the burlesque group appear. They attempt to cheer Ariadne, but without success. In a sustained and dazzling piece of coloratura singing Zerbinetta insists that the simplest way to get over a broken heart is to find another man.

The three nymphs, Naiad, Dryad and Echo then announce the arrival of a stranger on the island. At first Ariadne thinks he is the messenger of death; but in fact it is the god Bacchus. He falls in love with Ariadne at first sight and promises to set her in the heavens as a constellation. Zerbinetta returns to repeat her philosophy of love and the opera ends with the passionate singing of Ariadne and Bacchus.

Woodwind: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons
Brass: 2 horns, trumpet, trombone
Percussion: tambourine, timpani, drum, cymbals, snare drum
Other: strings, harmonium, celesta, glockenspiel, piano, 2 harps

The Spirit of the Island recording

extract from
The Spirit of the Island by Caroline Bird
Performed by Lynda Bryan, Sonja Byrne and Alan Gibbons
Recorded in the Royal Festival Hall, March 2008

Part 2.mp3

Ernst Haeckel

Bacon family coat of arms
(Mediocria Firma is Latin for Mediocrity is safe, Mediocrity is the way, or Moderate things are surest)

Coronula Reginae
Barnacle found attached to humpback whales