A New
Musical Tragedy

THE CROWN OF ARIADNE - synopsis
The Fates are revealed (Song of the Fates) and they notice Ariadne's thread; It is particularly beautiful, but it has been mangled and twisted with several others. One Fate places her measuring rod to the tangles which reveals a somewhat run-down, formally palatial, island cottage. Dionysus and his entourage enter, singing (The Wine Song). After the song Ariadne, pregnant and unhappy, complains about her present life. She compares her life to a maze and unexpectedly goes into a painful labor.

The Fates discuss what she said; They decide to determine if it is time to cut Ariadne’s thread (ending her life.) They look to the past and discover that Ariadne’s mother, Queen Pasiphae, fell in love with a bull (Magnificent Bull) and gave birth to the Minotaur. More repercussions from that act show Daedalus and his son, Icarus, trapped in a maze (My Star is Ariadne) with plans to escape. After they escape, the Minotaur is left howling in sadness. From outside the maze walls Ariadne sings him to sleep (Brother Sleep).

Minos enters and angrily demands Ariadne sing for a male suitor. Ariadne, thoughtful, somewhat malicious, agrees and performs (Rouse the Serpent). During the course of the song, Pasiphae unexpectedly appears, singing, obviously gone mad. Minos’ outrage is broken by the arrival of a messenger who informs them that Daedalus and Icarus have escaped. Ariadne hopes to see her childhood love, Icarus, again.

The Fates look to Athens, where Aegeus and Theseus are introduced. Seven youths of Athens are to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Theseus, despite his father's objections, decides to board the ship in one youth’s place to kill the Minotaur (Swift as Fire). As the song ends, Daedalus reveals himself from the crowd and offers his help.

Act II opens with the festival in Crete that accompanies the arrival of the Athens youths. (Feast of the Maze). During the march Theseus shouts his intentions to kill the Minotaur. This earns Minos’ and Ariadne’s attention for different reasons.

The next day Ariadne secretly goes to Theseus’ chambers to help him with his plan. She finds herself falling in love with Theseus, but is torn at the thought of betraying her feelings for Icarus. Later, Daedalus, disguised as Theseus' servant, reveals himself to Ariadne and tells her of Icarus’ demise. Ariadne sees Theseus a final time before the battle, and they share an intimate moment (The Storm.) Dionysus appears in the shadows wondering when the moment will ever be right for him to claim Ariadne as his own.

Theseus is victorious in the maze and emerges with the severed head of the Minotaur. Minos agrees to let Theseus return to Athens. Ariadne returns alone to the severed head, and begins to see the consequences of her actions (Ariadne’s Lament.)

Minos, seeking solitude for a time, sings (Happy for Long.) After the song he is murdered by Daedalus. Hearing his shouts, Pasiphae enters and meets Daedalus who is still smitten by her. He asks her to come away with him, but Pasiphae refuses.
When Ariadne learns of her father’s death, she feels there is nothing to stop her from marrying Theseus and ruling at his side in Athens. They depart, deciding to spend the night on the island of Naxos.

At night on the Island of Naxos, Pasiphae and Ariadne sleep while Theseus basks in the glow of his victory. Dionysus enters disguised as a messenger from a god, and convinces Theseus that he must leave for Athens immediately without Ariadne.
In Athens King Aegeus waits for Theseus’ ship to return with white sails as a sign of victory (Waiting for the Sails of White.) However, Theseus, in his haste, did not remember to change the sails. When Aegeus sees the approaching sails of black he throws himself into the sea.

Lights come up on the main stage, revealing Ariadne, waking, realizing she has been abandoned. Weeks pass and Dionysus finally enters offering her a solution -- a happy life married to the god of wine. (Toast to Ariadne) At first reluctant, Ariadne becomes enamored by his words-- and the wine—and she accepts his offer. Dionysus presents Ariadne with a crown. The Fates discuss how Ariadne went from such happiness to such sadness. They make a decision on her thread.

Back in the present, a drinking party is abruptly interrupted when Pasiphae, holding the healthy baby, enters with news that Ariadne has died. In the final song (Eulogy) a mournful Dionysus places Ariadne's crown in the sky creating a constellation - “The Crown of Ariadne.” Those who were close to her see the stars and remember Ariadne, each feeling responsible for the loss.
Curtain.


 

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