"A viscerally exciting Bluebeard’s Castle once again proved that in the hands of a sensitive director and an alert conductor one hardly needs a full-blown staging for this most-disturbing of operas. (...) The staging was by João Henriques who delivered an excellent account (in English) of the spoken ‘Prologue’ extremely well. His direction was simple yet subtle. Bluebeard appeared on the darkened stage-front with a trolley piled with seven suitcases. Emotional baggage? Judith followed him from darkness into semi-light. As she demanded to release the castle doors each suitcase was laid out (by him) and opened – straightforward lighting and the orchestra did the rest. Bluebeard seemed particularly keen to retain one case from the start, which turned out to be ‘Door 7’. When this was wide open the audience was bathed in a half-light … we were all part of Bluebeard’s surreptitious life". 

Friday, March 13, 2015 Barbican Hall, London.
Reviewed by Alexander Campbell


"We know little about the motivation behind either character before the opera begins, although we’re immediately drawn into their dysfunctional world of metaphor and symbolism as a narration, here delivered eloquently by director Jaoa Enriques in English, introduces the opera, tantalisingly making the audience aware that what we’re about to witness is a story in which anything can happen; where we should expect the unexpected.
Enriques had devised a simple, yet powerful semi-staging which reflects the ambiguity and complexities of the piece. The action was confined to a forestage, the only props a luggage trolley and seven suitcases, which Judith unlocked one by one. With evocative lighting, committed performances from both protagonists and coruscating playing from the BBC SO under the impassioned baton of Kirill Karabits, this was as engrossing and thrilling a performance of Bartok’s opera as any I’ve encountered"

Friday, March 13, 2015 Barbican Hall, London.

Reviewed by Keith McDonnell


"Bluebeard’s Castle was given a fine performance: unquestionably the highlight of the evening for me. I look forward next month to reporting back from Calixto Bieito’s new staging, in a double-bill with Gianni Schicchi, but here, a spare concert staging, imaginatively conceived by João Henriques, kept the work where it arguably belongs, in the theatre of the imagination. Henriques acted as Narrator too, offering (in English translation) an inviting, probing reading of that crucial Prologue. It seemed to offer choices; yet, at the same time, we knew that Fate would win. We certainly did once Bartók’s score began its work. (If only a good few other operas could say as much as it does, in the time it takes to do so!) Arriving with seven suitcases upon a trolley, one for each door, this pairing of Bluebeard and Judit increasingly suggested both that there were things better left packed up, and that the Forbidden Question – those inevitable shades of Lohengrin – would be asked."

Friday, March 13, 2015 Barbican Hall, London.

Reviewed by Mark Berry


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