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BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE one-act expressionist opera music by béla bartók // libretto by béla balázs reorchestration by kym dillon bluebeard





adrian tamburini zara barrett kate millett


james penn


pam christie


jason bouvaird anna maria gabor suzanne stevens


belinda dalton


christopher hewitt, peter & julie millett,

sung in hungarian with english surtitles // the performance lasts approximately 1 hour ABOUT BARTOK Béla Bartók is perhaps best known as a composer, but his work in ethnomusicology, and in particular the notation of Hungarian folk music, brought him great acclaim. From an early age, he could identify dance rhythms and songs of his home town of Nagyszentmiklós, and according to his mother, before he could form full sentences. Along with Franz Liszt and Zoltán Kodály, he is considered a great Hungarian composer, taking on nationalist tones.

Throughout Bartók’s later life, many western audiences did not understand his references to Hungarian folk music, and his music dwindled in popularity. As his only opera, Bluebeard’s Castle is a work that is a ‘bringing together’ of all of the great parts of Bartok’s polytonal style. This expressionist opera was deemed ‘not fit for the stage’ in 1911 by the Hungarian fine arts commission. It is often presented in concert form.

SYNOPSIS Judith has come to live with Bluebeard, having left her family home and her peaceful, ordered existence. Bluebeard’s secret mesmerizes her—she knows the terrifying rumours, she fears she may be on a road of no return, yet she decides to enter his home. The door closes. Judith confesses her love for Bluebeard, believing that it will change him and light up his gloomy home. She repeats her profession of love like a mantra as she demands that the doors to seven rooms be opened. The first one is a torture chamber, the second an armoury. These rooms fill her with terror. The third and fourth doors conceal a treasury and a garden. Then, behind the fifth door, Bluebeard shows his empire to Judith. She sees blood everywhere: on jewels, weapons, flowers. She doesn’t want to defer to Bluebeard who says, “Love me” and “Ask no questions.” Judith responds that she loves him and wants him to open up to her, reveal his inner self, uncover his fears. She demands that all the doors be opened. Behind the sixth door is a lake of tears, and a great lament grows in the orchestra which Judith and Bluebeard echo. Judith declares she knows the source of the blood and the tears - his previous wives, reportedly murdered by Bluebeard himself. Bluebeard encourages her to open the final door. Behind the seventh door she finds his three previous wives, not yet dead, not quite alive. As Bluebeard reveals, they embody morning, afternoon and evening. His fourth wife, Judith herself, represents midnight. After he has sent her tenderly to join the others, and the doors have closed, Bluebeard is left alone. She is made a part of Bluebeard’s space forever. The circle of her journey closes. KYM DILLON—REORCHESTRATION Kym Dillon began his music career as a jazz pianist. He holds a Bachelor of Music Performance Honours in composition from the Victorian College of the Arts (University of Melbourne). His awards include the Beleura Sir George Tallis Award in 2009; and the Beleura John Tallis Award in 2010, the Athanaeum Prize. His work has been performed in Australia, the U.K., North America, Canada, Romania and Italy, including two works written for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and a choral work performed by the Astra Chamber Music Society. 2014 saw Kym collaborate with choreographer Jude Walton on her project Lehte, composing and performing music directly tied to the space of Heide II. In addition to compositional work, he currently works as a music director and accompanist for three community choirs under Creativity Australia’s With One Voice program. He also works regularly as a piano and music theory teacher, accompanist, arranger and ensemble director.

CONDUCTOR - JAMES PENN James Penn is an up-and-coming conductor, who began his musical training as a choirboy at All Saints church, St Kilda east. He holds a Bachelor of Music Performance from Victorian College of the Arts, a Graduate Diploma in Music from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts James is passionate about the inherent confrontation at the heart of all great opera. Having toured internationally, singing in the great European cathedrals and concert halls, he brings this experience to his work. For BK opera, he has conducted Carmen, Werther, La Traviata, La Voix Humaine, The Pirates of Penzance, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Orphée et Eurydice, and Iphigenie en Tauride. Outside of BK he has also conducted music theatre, such as Footloose and Next to Normal. CONDUCTOR’S NOTE The original instrumentation in Bluebeard’s castle is vast. His calling for a large orchestra, extending the boundaries of the technology within it, reflect the goings on in the world (including the industrial revolution), and that objects and technology can be evil or sinister. This gave us an opportunity to explore how to do this with modern music technology, and work with Kym Dillon to produce an epic re-imagining of the score. The minor second and it’s striking dissonance, appearing when Judith sees blood on the walls of the castle, add to the upsetting nature of the story. The modulations between F# and C represent the dichotomy of darkness and light. It is also interesting to note that there are some motives that are reminiscent of Hungarian folk music, particularly in the woodwind line leading up to the modulation to C.

DIRECTOR - KATE MILLETT Kate Millett is a multifaceted artist working as a theatre and opera director, arts producer, writer, dramaturg and performer. Inspired by the opera scenes developing in New York and Berlin, Kate is bringing her black-box theatre mentality to opera, focusing on the emotionality of the singers, and bringing a visceral reality to this artform. Past productions include Carmen, Werther, La Traviata, La Voix Humaine, Pirates of Penzance, Die Entführung, Orphée et Eurydice, and Iphigenie en Tauride. She has become known for her distinctive brand of dark and intimate interpretations of classic operas. In 2019, she continues this work with Gianni Schicchi and Cavalleria Rusticana for Canberra Opera in August, as well as La Bohème in November. DIRECTORS NOTE Starting with the customary “Once Upon a Time”, Bluebeard’s Castle immerses you directly into the fantasy, questioning the very nature of reality and performance. I wanted to move away from the usual interpretation that through her curiosity, Judith brings on her own destruction. Instead, I focused on the power dynamics between the couple, revealing how their relationship spirals into abuse. As the doors open one by one and Bluebeard begins to expose his true self, he, in turn, slowly strips away her humanity, reducing her to an idol, to a symbol. For this, I took a fair bit of inspiration from the Madonna: degrading a woman to her divinity, the reality of her flesh and blood repressed and ignored. While, in many respects, this is a concert, I wanted to create an immersive abstract spectacle, to lean into the dark psychological fairy tale.

ADRIAN TAMBURINI - DUKE BLUEBEARD After singing as a boy chorister for many years, Adrian commenced vocal lessons with Bettine McCaughan at the age of 15. Between 1996 and 2011 he achieved great success winning awards in many vocal eisteddfods and competitions throughout Victoria including two international singing competitions. In 2017, Adrian was the winner of Austrlia’s prestigious singing award, the Australian Opera Awards (YMF, MOST). His singing has featured on cinema releases of opera, DVD, international recordings, motion picture soundtracks, radio, television (Woolworths Carols in the Domain) and Australian dramas including the soundtrack to "After the Deluge". His Operatic debut was in 1997 and ever since has had a varied career as an operatic soloist (Opera Australia, West Australian Opera, Melbourne Opera), a concert performer (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Zelman Symphony Orchestra, Sydney University Graduate Choir), musical director and producer. His work, both on and off the stage, has been nominated for awards and his performances have received critical acclaim. In 2019, Adrian will move to Bologna, Italy to pursue an international career as an opera and concert singer.

ZARA BARRETT - JUDITH Soprano Zara Barrett won the Opera Foundation Shell Covent Garden Award in 1995 and the following year graduated from the postgraduate course at the National Opera Studio in London. She is a three-time regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Awards (1993, 2000 and 2001), and then went on to join the Young Artist program at the Pittsburgh Opera Centre. Her roles include Mimi and Musetta in La Boheme (New Zealand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera), Masha in Richard Wargo’s The Music Shop, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Oberlin Conservatory, Ohio), Micaëla in Carmen, Lucy in Three Penny Opera, Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla Del West, and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel. In 2009, Zara joined the cast of Jerry Springer - The Opera for its Sydney season. Her title roles include Turandot and Aida (Opera Australia, Australian International Productions) In Australia, she has performed with Opera Australia, Opera Queensland, State Opera of South Australia and OzOpera. In 2011, Zara was awarded the Opera Award for the Australian Singing Competition.

As she entered his dark and frozen castle, Bluebeard asked her “are you frightened?� Judith, unwavered, vowed to bring in the sunshine. Inside, she found seven closed and locked doors

Judith begged for the keys, to let her inside. Bluebeard was reluctant, hinting at unhappy events in his past, but finally handed the keys to her‌ one by one.

The walls began to bleed.

She soon realised they were all blood-stained.

Who has bled to feed this garden?

Bluebeard warns Judith not to open any more doors. She has brightened the castle by opening the first five doors, but, he warns, to open more would just invite darkness. Judith insisted on opening all the doors, to banish the darkness forever.

Who had shed such an abundance of tears?

They filled his castle with treasures and tears.

The first he met in morning, the second at midday, and the third in the evening. Bluebeard crowned Judith "his bride of the night". Terrified and pleading for her life, Judith followed the three women through the seventh door. Bluebeard was once more alone and in darkness.




NOV 12 - 21


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Bluebeard's Castle - BK Opera 2019 Program  

Bluebeard's Castle - BK Opera 2019 Program  

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