I was back at the Four Seasons Centre last night for another look at Duke Bluebeard’s Castle or, perhaps more accurately, another listen. I really enjoyed the production again and I don’t have much to add to my earlier review. It was the music that had much more impact this time. I often find that with “modern” scores I get much more out of them on a second listening and that was true here. First time round I felt so battered by the loud bits, especially the section where the fifth door (Bluebeard’s empire) is opened with it’s extra brass and JohnWilliams on acid crescendos, that my brain somewhat discounted the quieter bits. Last night I was struck mainly by the meditative nature of much of the music. The influence of Débussy, especially Pelléas et Mélisande, seems clear. The little repeating figures for the woodwinds; there’s one that’s usually given (I think) to the flutes and or oboes) and another descending figure in the bassoons, are quite haunting. It’s really quite lovely when it’s not being brutal.
I also appreciated the relationship between Bluebeard and Judith more. This isn’t Perreault’s tale of a brute and an innocent. Gubanova’s rather fierce Judith is running the show. Maybe there is an element of hubris in this Judith. Relyea’s Duke by contrast is almost an observer and commentator; acquiescing in what must be. Some of this, of course, is in the libretto. Bluebeard isn’t killed and Judith shares the fate, whatever it is, of the other wives. But here she seems to do so willingly.
I’m glad I saw this again.
Photo credit: Michael Cooper