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Concerto for Orchestra / Bluebeard's CastleNew production

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NationaltheaterMunich, Bavaria, Germany
2020 June 27 18:00, June 29 19:00
Festival: Munich Opera Festival
Performers
Bavarian State Opera
Oksana LynivConductor
Katie MitchellDirector
Alex EalesSet Designer
Sussie Juhlin-WallénCostume Designer
Nina StemmeSopranoJudith
John LundgrenBaritoneBluebeard
James FarncombeLighting Designer
Grant GeeVideo Artist
Bayerisches Staatsorchester

“Judith, would you follow me still?”

In Béla Bartók’s staggering version of the legendary Bluebeard material, the eponymous Duke of the title, gives his newly-weds the opportunity to turn back three times. The gates of Duke Bluebeard’s fortress then close behind the two and Judith’s fate is sealed. Béla Balázs’s libretto compresses the dooming of a love with great poetic power. Through such power Judith will brighten and give warmth to the darkness and cold of Bluebeard’s castle, and therefore rescue Bluebeard himself from the despair that surrounds him. Because she loves him, so she says, Judith wants to know all the Duke’s secrets, and therefore also demands the keys to the locked doors of the fortress from him, one after the other. With each door Bluebeard reveals a view of a part of his castle, his empire, his personality, and everywhere there are indicators that point to something dreadful and inevitable – to the secret behind the seventh door.

Béla Bartók wrote his only opera aged thirty, still under the audible influence of contemporaries such as Claude Debussy. The music is also very close to the language here – even where language fails. Bartók composed and orchestrated the seven rooms in Bluebeard’s Castle until they were palpable.

In his Concerto for Orchestra, composed immediately after his flight from Europe to the USA as a commissioned work to provide a livelihood, more than thirty years later Bartók once again used motifs from Bluebeard’s Castle. Shortly before his death Bartók once again decisively reworked the Concerto. This last version can be enjoyed in Katie Mitchell’s production.

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