Ariadne & Theseus at the Mortlock Chamber

Picture courtesy of Dr Daniela Kaleva

To the Mortlock Chamber in the State Library of SA, to hear L’Arianna abbandonata e gloriosa and Lamento d’Arianna (1608), works reconstructed from Monteverdi’s fragmented scores, with solo voice and harpsichord, accompanied by the odd stage effect to evoke waves crashing on lonely Naxos, where (failed Argonaut) Theseus has parked Ariadne to show his gratitude for her help surviving the labyrinth on Minos. This paring away eschews the go-for-baroque approach that could overwhelm the purity of the harmonics, which are quite reminiscent of Purcell’s Dido pieces…

Daniela Kaleva, as Ariadne, had the shock, sadness and la belle indifference down pat in her expressions and rhetorical gestures.  Like Callas, she is perhaps a better actress than singer but the 2nd half lament was better as her tension lessened and the vocals relaxed.  The effect of Ariadne, in her gold-braided dress and shoes complete with bustle, all alone, surf crashing about, was eerily effective.

Whilst TVC is not a great harpsichord-o-maniac, Donald Nicolson was very much in command of the fragile instrument, even when decked out in antique ruff in Part 2 of the programme.


Titian’s beautiful blue rendering shows Ariadne below the constellation named in her honour; beside her left shoulder is the scarpering boat of Theseus, wrong sails unfurled; at the centre is Bacchus (Dionysus), describing the bowling action of Tom Vievers, as he perceives the disheveled figure of Ariadne and is himself bowled over.



Photo of Mr Tom Veivers from “Cricket the Australian Way” ed.J Pollard, Lansdowne Press, p 135 3rd ed.


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