Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at SF Symphony

Dave and I just got back from hearing this. Wow! A favorite opera of mine, really wonderfully performed and sung. Just one more performance Saturday night! Go if you can!

It’s a strange one-act opera, surreal and hard to get a handle on, but one that I enjoy more and see more deeply into every time I hear it. Duke Bluebeard brings his new wife, Judith, home to his castle. The castle, she finds, is dark, damp, and windowless. There is a great hall, however, with seven large doors, all locked. Judith demands the keys so that she can open the doors and bring sunlight and air into the castle. Bluebeard refuses at first, but Judith insists, and he lets her unlock just one. And then just one more. And then another, and another. That’s it, the whole story, just the unlocking of the seven doors one at a time and discovering what lies behind each one.

The libretto is puzzling but it resonates deeply, at least for me, and the music is wonderful. I hadn’t listened to it in a long while and I’d forgotten how seriously creepy and chilling those harp arpeggios are when Judith unlocks the sixth door. Brrrr!

I’m told you can get tickets for tomorrow at close to half off if you order them on the San Francisco Symphony’s website and use the promo code OPERACASTLE50.

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