Monday, May 14, 2007

Duke Bluebeard's Castle

In 1911 Bela Bartok composed the opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle with a libretto by Bela Balazs. Yesterday I attended a brilliant performance of this gem from the early twentieth century as produced by the Chicago Opera Theater. With musical connections to both Debussy and Strauss, Bartok is beginning with this opera to develop his own musical identity. The brilliant orchestration had sounds thick with the resonance of brass, yet seemed almost lyrical and light at times - always foreboding as befits the story. Certainly the opera demonstrates Freudian roots as Bluebeard's new bride, Judith, insists that that he bare the secrets of his soul locked behind seven doors within the depths of his castle. As the opera unfolds the music soars. This performance was enhanced by the lofty talents of Samuel Ramey as the Duke and an excellent orchestral accompaniment under the baton of Alexander Platt. I was spellbound to the end.

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