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Dido and Aeneas / Bluebeard's Castle

Henry Purcell 1659-1695
Béla Bartók 1881–1945

Dido and Aeneas
Opera in 5 scenes with an epilogue. Libretto by Nahum Tate based on Virgil.
First performance 1689
Josias Priest’s School for Young Ladies, London
Sung in English with German & English surtitles

Bluebeard's Castle
Opera in one act I Text by Béla Balázs
First performed May 24 1918, Royal Opera House, Budapest

Sung in Hungarian with German & English surtitles
This double bill first seen December 5  2010

Introduction (on video, in German) will appear here and on YouTube not long before opening night

The lovers in both operas struggle for unfulfilled relationships. Barrie Kosky's interpretation of Purcell's opera focuses on the lead female, underlining the intimacy of Purcell's poignant sound world. In Kosky's mind it's clearly a „One Woman Show with Guests“, the Carthaginian Queen Dido, abandoned by the Trojan hero Aeneas - her lamento ends with her dying of a broken heart.

Problems between man and wife escalate into an insoluable conflict in Béla Bartók's only opera. His setting of the symbolist poem by Béla Balázs to music avoids the gruesome elements in the Bluebeard tale, reducing the plot to a drama of the soul. The title figure in Barrie Kosky's production is not a wife murderer. The castle is a metaphor for Bluebeard's body, through which can be seen what is hidden behind its doors: blood, gold, tears and flowers. The battle of love plays out on Katrin Lea Tag's set, a bare, revolving stage, like an enormous, empty slice of the world, a symbol for lost paradise.