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Béla Bartók Bluebeard's Castle

Opera in one act, op. 11 Sz 48
Text by Béla Balázs after a fairy-tale by Charles Perrault

Before the opera the two concert pieces Vier Orchesterstücke, Op. 12 Sz 51 and Cantata profana- Die neun Zauberhirsche, Sz 94 by Béla Bartók are played.

New production
In Hungarian, with German and English surtitles

Duration of the performance: approx. 2 hours


  • 06 August 2008, 18:30


  • 14 August 2008, 20:00
  • 18 August 2008, 20:00
  • 23 August 2008, 20:00

Print programme (PDF)


Peter Eötvös (August 6, 14, 18) , Conductor
Gregory Vajda (August 23) (23.08), Conductor
Gregory Vajda (August 23), Conductor 
Johan Simons, Stage director
Daniel Richter, Sets
Greta Goiris, Costumes
Mark Van Denesse, Lighting design
Sanne van Rijn, Choreography
Koen Tachelet, Thomas Wördehoff, Dramaturgy
Jörn Hinnerk Andresen, Chorus Master


Lance Ryan,
Falk Struckmann, Duke Bluebeard
Michelle DeYoung, Judith
André Jung, Bard

Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna Philharmonic


It is one of the darkest love stories in all of literature, the Baroque fairy-tale of Duke Bluebeard from Charles Perrault's collection Contes de ma mère l'oye. Innumerable poets, composers and film directors have adapted the fable – the secret of the wife-slaying nobleman provided the plot for plays, operettas and saturnine allegories. For Béla Bartók's only opera, Duke Bluebeard's Castle, the Hungarian man of letters and cineaste Béla Balász wrote a libretto in 1911 that is full of loss, hopelessness and fear of love. Shortly before he finished the score, Bartók began composing the piano version of his Four Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 12, in which he used a similar tone as for Bluebeard – at times, the Pieces for Orchestra seem like an echo of the opera. Finally, in his great choral work Cantata profana, finished in 1930, Béla Bartók wrote a passionate ode to the metamorphoses of life. The Nine Enchanted Stags, as the subtitle goes, is based on Rumanian Christmas carols: nine brothers go hunting until they are turned into stags when crossing a bridge.
Director Johan Simons' three-part evening of music by Bartók reflects upon human "identity, projections, traumata and self-invention,” which to him are the most important components of fairy-tales. Including modern ones.
Thomas Wördehoff