Bluebeard's Castle/Erwartung

It’s rare that I literally gasp upon reading a press release, but I did when Seattle Opera announced plans to stage a double bill I’d seen in Vancouver in 1998: Bela Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Arnold Schoenberg’s Erwartung in a production by Robert Lepage (probably best known in America for Cirque du Soleil’s Ká). I never dreamed it’d be done here, though I did hang onto my old review: “Bartok’s 45-minute opera is a duologue between Bluebeard (sung by John Relyea, pictured) and his bride Judith. In his great hall stand seven doors; one by one she demands to open them, revealing the horrors and wonders within. But behind the last are the apparitions of Bluebeard’s three previous wives, and Judith joins them to be sealed up forever as the curtain falls. In Michael Levine’s black-box set, the floor, ceiling, and walls slope up, down, and in from the proscenium—a space which both conveys the somber vastness of a castle hall and becomes increasingly claustrophobic as the psychological screws tighten. Most magical was the moat at the lip of the stage, silvery waters from which the three wives rose, a stunningly beautiful effect. . . Lepage’s Schoenberg staging used the same set. A woman wanders through the woods and discovers the body of her lover, who, it is implied, she killed in an insane fit of jealousy. Lepage presented this as a flashback from the woman’s asylum cell, a hallucination decked with Dadaist details: a psychoanalyst in a chair on the wall, a floating bed, a scarlet moon.” As long as I live, I’ll never forget the moat. Actually, “stunningly beautiful” doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is the most visually compelling opera production I’ve ever seen, and the music is glorious. Do not miss it. GAVIN BORCHERT [See GB's review.]

Sat., Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 1, 2 p.m.; Wed., March 4, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., March 6, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., March 7, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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