Béla Bartók

Duke Bluebeard's Castle

In the mind’s darkest corners, a shadow waits.

21 Mar–23 Mar 2024

As Judith unlocks room after room in the castle of her new husband, Duke Bluebeard, we follow her deeper and deeper into the recesses of his troubled imagination.

Her descent takes us through a torture chamber, an armoury, a treasury and a garden, until we find a mysterious seventh chamber which holds her fate.

A masterpiece by composer Bela Bartok, the opera is as taut and gripping as a thriller, but it resists easy categorisation. At once a study of an obsessive, violent man and an allegory of the battle of the sexes, Bluebeard’s Castle is a powerful story that incites thought as well as suspense.

Presented as a semi-staged concert performance by two internationally acclaimed performers in an hour of gripping psychodrama. This production is a two-hander, with incredibly versatile mezzo-soprano Allison Cook (Judith), and one of today’s finest basses, Canadian singer, John Relyea (Bluebeard). It is conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya who returns to the ENO after conducting Symphony of Sorrowful Songs in 2023. The ENO will be performing this production in Hungarian, the original language, with English surtitles displayed above the stage.

This production is generously supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust and The English National Opera Trust.

Running Time
1hrs 05mins

There is no interval.

Access

We have an Access Scheme for our audiences with a disability, a health condition, or different access needs to ensure everyone has a comfortable and enjoyable visit.

Tickets
Tickets start at just £10 plus £3.75 booking fee and £1.50 Building Levy per ticket. A maximum of £10.50 per transaction is charged.
Language
Sung in Hungarian, the original language, with English words displayed above the stage (Surtitles)

Age guidance: 12+

For more information, please contact our box office on 020 7845 9300 or [email protected]

Discover Duke Bluebeard's Castle

Duke Bluebeard's Castle Creative Team 2024

Duke Bluebeard's Castle Cast 2024

Duke Bluebeard’s Castle FAQs

Duke Bluebeard’s Castle was composed by Hungarian-modernist Bela Bartok, alongside a libretto by Béla Balázs. The opera was originally written in 1911 and was further updated to have a different ending in 1917. 

The running time of a performance of Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at the London Coliseum is roughly 1 hour. To experience Bartok’s opera, book tickets here.  

The opera seeks to explore themes of secrecy, curiosity and consequences, by delving into the dark and mysterious mind of the title character, Duke Bluebeard. Through the intense atmosphere and music, the story raises questions between respecting boundaries and inquisitiveness. The disturbing storyline lends to the exploration of the human mind and unsettling aspects of human relationships, making for a very thought-provoking opera. 

The complex and psychologically intense nature of the storyline means Duke Bluebeard’s Castle is much more difficult to understand for those unfamiliar with the dark and abstract themes in opera. 

If you’re new to opera and are looking for a more beginner-friendly experience, you may want to opt for more accessible and enjoyable storylines. We’d recommend Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro or The Magic Flute for a lighter experience.