The Ariadne Opera Bracelet

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One of opera's most unusual works is Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. The piece takes the form of an opera within an opera; the audience observes the themes and characters blending between the backstage drama of the prelude and the action of the following performance.

I found the story within story concept a challenge to design and I hope you will enjoy the results. The tale begins as the story of an opera and comedy being ordered to be performed together simultaneously. This results in chaos, but on a deeper level the final performance explores the nature of human love and attraction. It ends with a degree of happiness and passion, but, (spoilers) I am sad to tell you that no matter the version of Ariadne's tale, it goes on to end badly...but at least she got to be remembered as a constellation (Corona).

Each bead and charm of the Ariadne auf Naxos Opera Bracelet represents a character or moment from the work. Some of the most important beads and charms are described below and you can see all of the symbolic descriptions on the spiral chart photo above or to the left.  Also, a story chart explaining the symbolism of the beads and charms accompanies every bracelet. Click here to see the chart.

  • To differential the three entertainments of the night, I picked a crystal rondelle to be the opera, a red harlequin bead is the comedy and a star symbolizes the fireworks display. A dark twisting bead indicates the stress, conflict and worry regarding the awkward scheduling; the dark disc with swirling colors symbolizes the chaos of blending the two performances together.
  • I chose a sparkling gold-stone bead to represent the gifted young composer with a bright future.
  • Zerbinetta and her Harlequin are symbolized by harlequin/diamond patterned beads in black and clear glass. The comedy troupe is indicated by dark and clear beads. My intention was to evoke the traditional black and white costumes of the Commedia dell’ arte troupes.
  • The Tenor and Prima Donna (later Bacchus and Ariadne) are represented by gold and pink crystals. A black double cone represents their continual bickering.
  • I was delighted to find these meaningful beads to represent elements of the Naxos section of the opera: An iridescent shell bead is the desert island of Naxos. Naiad the water nymph is an wavy aqua bead; Dryad the tree nymph is a leaf; Echo who can only reflect the words of others is symbolized by a mirror finished bead.
  • Charms on the bracelet include: masks which are traditionally part of the Commedia dell'arte costumes; a music note symbolizes the composer and grapes evoke Bacchus, god of the vine amongst many other things. A crown charm is Ariadne's crown, placed in the heavens by Bacchus as the constellation Corona.
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