Opera Philadelphia

Ariadne and TV's Greatest Castaways

By Opera Philadelphia

This week’s sold-out production of Ariadne auf Naxos is dazzling audiences with its stunning ensemble performance of Richard Strauss's opera. The production also has everyone asking the same question: What are Gilligan, the Skipper (too), the Millionaire, the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann doing on an opera stage?

In this short video, stage director Chas Rader-Shieber discusses his Curtis Opera Theatre production, and how Strauss’s beautiful opera-within-an-opera explores the collision of high art with low art, as a buttoned-up opera company is forced to perform on the same stage with a brash comedy troupe. The opera about Ariadne, marooned on a deserted island by Bacchus, takes a farcical twist when the comics show up dressed as TV’s most famous group of Castaways.

Gilligan’s Island is actually no stranger to opera. The season 3 episode “The Producer,” in which the enterprising castaways stage a musical version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet for film producer HaroldHecuba (Phil Silvers), featured musical passages from the operas Carmen (Habanera and the Toreador song) and The Tales ofHoffmann ("Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour"). Originally aired on October 3, 1966, the episode was named one of the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time by TV Guide.

We can’t help but ask: If the Professor could build a stage, write a libretto, and produce such an elaborate opera, why couldn’t he just fix the S.S. Minnow and get them all off the island?

Leave your comment below.

Chat with Guest Services