Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s rarely performed psychological thriller, Bluebeard’s Castle, will round out Opera Australia’s 2021 opening season when it premieres at the Sydney Opera House this month.
A young bride enters Bluebeard’s castle. Trembling on the threshold, she longs to warm the icy marble and let the light flood in. But the walls are wet with tears. The castle is rank with blood. Seven doors are locked before her. Unafraid, she steps into the darkness.
Bartók’s only opera is an astonishing achievement for a young composer. A large orchestra conjures up Bluebeard’s chilling castle. Dread and anticipation hang in the air as intense, anguished chords. Each door takes shape in the music.
Featuring contemporary staging by Australian Director Andy Morton and Associate Director Priscilla Jackman, this haunting new production is described as an evocative exploration of the dark recesses of the mind, in a modern interpretation that strips away the layers to focus on the disturbing psychology behind the story.
Performed in Hungarian, this opera demands two commanding singers to tackle the difficult score; bass-baritone Daniel Sumegi and mezzo-soprano Carmen Topciu are equal to the task.
Booming bass-baritone Daniel Sumegi will assume the role of the treacherous Bluebeard. Known for his powerful performances, his recent engagements with Opera Australia include Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the 2016 Ring Cycle. Sumegi will bring his dramatic timing and resonating tones to the role, drawing on his wealth of experience to give another unforgettable performance.
Following her acclaimed performance as Jane Seymour in Anna Bolena in 2019, Carmen Topciu returns to Sydney to tackle the role of Judith. Known for her impassioned performances, Topciu is set to bring her dynamic acting and rich vocals to this complex role.
The pair will be performing under the baton of accomplished conductor Andrea Molino who, in addition to conducting the Opera Australia Orchestra, will also be responsible for the orchestral arrangement. Lighting designer John Rayment has created a starkly symbolic setting that invokes a razorlike focus on the key figures, the confronting storyline and the gloriously commanding score.
Conductor and Orchestral Arrangement: Andrea Molino Director: Andy Morton Starring: Daniel Sumegi, Carmen Topciu, Chanyang Choi, Olivia Cranwell, Kathryn Williams, Opera Australia Orchestra Associate Director: Priscilla Jackman Lighting Designer: John Rayment
Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney
Season continues to 10 March 2021
Information and Bookings: www.opera.org.au
Image: Carmen Topciu as Judith and Daniel Sumegi as Bluebeard in Opera Australia’s 2021 production of Bluebeard’s Castle at the Sydney Opera House – photo by Prudence Upton