The extraordinary Duke Bluebeard's Castle, Bartók's only opera, is widely regarded as his masterpiece.
Its world is sinister, dark and deeply disturbing. There are just two voices throughout, Duke Bluebeard and his new wife, Judith, and the entire one-act opera takes place in the hall of its castle. Judith opens the hall’s seven doors, one by one; each door reveals its own horror.
In one, a torture chamber; in another, an armoury filled with bloody weapons; and in another, a garden where blood stains the plants’ leaves. The final door opens and reveals Bluebeard’s three former wives, who step forward and receive Judith into their eternally imprisoned group. This is chilling, psychological drama, one of the great achievements of 20th century music.
Conducted by Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the work was recorded during the Philharmonia's 2011 Infernal Dance: Inside the World of Béla Bartók series, and features acclaimed soloists Sir John Tomlinson (Bluebeard) and Michelle de Young (Judith).
"Salonen conducts a taut, luxuriant reading that captures the score’s majesty and mystery" Andrew Clark, Financial Times, May 2014
- I. Prologue and Introduction
- II. First Door: Bluebeard's Torture Chamber
- III. Second Door: The Armoury
- IV. Third Door: The Treasure Room
- V. Fourth Door: The Garden
- VI. Fifth Door: Bluebeard's Vast & Beautiful Kingdom
- VII. Sixth Door: The Lake of Tears
- VIII. Seventh Door: Bluebeard's Wives