Duke Bluebeard's Castle is a relatively new opera to me, and after hearing its incredible music, that is haunting and beautiful, it just goes to show how much I've been missing. The story may seem static at times but that doesn't matter, it is never dull and the atmosphere is incredibly rich, and of course the music! If you find Bartok's opera captivating, you will find this production just as much. The Door 5 scene could have had more dramatic tension with the orchestra matching it in intensity, that however is the only thing that could have been improved on, and that is just a subjective nit-pick. The visuals are have parts of eerie weirdness and true beauty which matches the story and atmosphere exactly, those for the Door 6 scene will leave you in awe. The photography is clever and skillful, the transitions fluid and seamless. The drama and directing choices are inspired and compelling as well as allowing the storytelling to be as concise as possible, nothing detracting from what is going on at all. The orchestral playing boasts textures that are both lyrical and intensely dramatic, very like Bartok's music itself, and stylistically it never lumbers and on the most part the tension is realised. While the conducting is accommodating yet taut, with good use of tempos with only those for Door 5 in want of more urgency. Robert Lloyd and Elizabeth Laurence are both just wonderful, he with a voice that is sonorous and characterful and she with one but has heft and lyricism, while both are good subtle actors(Laurence with her mix of excitement and joyful naivety more so than Lloyd). All in all, absolutely captivating and strongly recommended. 9.5/10 Bethany Cox
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