Gothic Opera has announced that it will stage a new production of Bluebeard’s Castle (1918), a one-act expressionist opera by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, at Porchester Hall, in west London, this July. The company is known for specialising in performances of rarely seen operatic works that take their inspiration from the uncanny atmosphere of the Gothic and supernatural.
The show has been created in collaboration with a group of students from the digital animation department of Ravensbourne University, London. It aims to provide an exciting and unique take on Bartók’s opera. The piece was created by director Julia Mintzer and choreographer Carmine de Amicis, with a brand new arrangement by Leon Haxby, which adds the voices of three additional sopranos. The production is sung in Hungarian with English surtitles.
The production takes the audience on a surreal journey in which Bluebeard is unravelling. He is losing perspective and questioning his own sense of self. As each door in his castle is opened, a new aspect of his tortured soul is revealed – until at last, we see what is hiding behind the seventh door.
This new work is described by Gothic Opera as: “A multidisciplinary celebration of opera, dance and digital animation. It’s a psychological story of one man’s encounter with the darker parts of his mind and his journey to uncover them.”
Music comes from chamber ensemble the Halcyon Quartet, under the direction of conductor Thomas Payne, a former Jette Parker Young Artist at the Royal Opera House (ROH). The cast features bass Simon Wilding in the title role, with mezzo-soprano Alexandra Long singing the part of Judit, his newly married wife.
Other cast members include sopranos Charlotte Osborn and Alice Usher, both company directors and co-founders of Gothic Opera, as well as soprano Katherine MacRae. They will perform alongside innovative choreographer and dancer Carmine de Amicis.
A group of students in the Digital Animation department of Ravensbourne University have created special animations inspired by the rooms in Bluebeard’s castle which will be seen in the live performances. A series of related films is available to watch for free on Gothic Opera’s website.
In one, course supervisor Dev Bye-A-Jee discusses the process of working on the animations, explaining how his animation students became involved in the project and talking about the collaborative process of working with an opera company. The others present a selection of the students’ work, with soundtracks by sound designer Will Alder.
Performances of Bluebeard’s Castle take place on 8, 9 and 10 July at 8pm. Tickets cost from £16.76 and are available from eventbrite. All performances will conform to current government guidelines regarding Covid-19, with safety measures in place including social distancing and the use of face coverings.
“This has been a particularly difficult year for the arts,” Gothic Opera commented in a statement. “So we hope that this is very much the beginning of a Renaissance and of new exciting things to come for us all.”
Gothic Opera is set to present a new, multidisciplinary production of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle at London’s Porchester Hall this month.