Widely regarded as his ultimate masterpiece, Béla Bartók’s one-act opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle is a gripping psychodrama will chill you to your core. Presented as a semi-staged concert performance by two internationally acclaimed performers, this is a fascinating opera guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat.
Inspired by Charles Perrault's fairy-tale, Bluebeard
Perrault’s fairy-tale has inspired myriad reworkings and adaptations across literature, film, theatre and music. We couldn’t possibly list them all but film buffs will recognise elements of the story in the classic Hitchcock films Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941), as well as Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (2014). For literature fans, Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca (adapted for the Hitchcock film by the same name), Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber have undeniable roots in the classic tale – even Fifty Shades of Grey references Bluebeard but let’s not go there…
Béla Bartók’s only opera
Born in Hungary in 1881, Bartók was a child prodigy who began composing from the age of nine. His first and only opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle was deemed not fit for the stage by the Hungarian Fine Arts Commission. Following this rejection, he almost completely stopped writing music for four years. Now considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century, Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle is regarded as a significant Modernist Expressionist piece, and desire to stage this production hasn’t waned in over 100 years – so take that Hungarian Fine Arts Commission of 1911!
Armchair psychologists unite!
Do you dare peek behind the door of a disturbed mind? When newlywed Judith enters her husband’s dark foreboding castle, she is faced with seven locked doors that she is forbidden to enter. Intrigue leads her to break these rules, and with each unlocked door comes another horrifying revelation about the man she married. The castle can be seen as symbolic of Bluebeard’s soul, a dark mind filled with secrets that threaten to reveal his true nature. Or is it more a reflection of our own fears of loneliness, vulnerability and hidden secrets? You’ll have to see it and decide for yourself…
It's short and (not-so) sweet
We all love a sensational opera experience that allows for a leisurely post-show dinner and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle truly delivers here. This semi-staged production is small but mighty, packing in all the dramatic punch of a classic but with a full evening of discussion afterwards and no worries about your train home. Ideal.