For Immediate Release: March 9th, 2023
Gerald Finley confronts dementia in boldly reimagined Bluebeard’s Castle, presented by Against the Grain Theatre
Bartok’s masterful opera transforms to tell an intimate love story of a long-married couple grappling with memory loss, earning a win for Best Opera from prestigious UK awards.
📸 Gerald Finley as Bluebeard in the first production of Theatre of Sound’s Bluebeard’s Castle in London, England — Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic courtesy of Theatre of Sound.
”“Five Stars… an unforgettable production in its own right.”—The Guardian
TORONTO, March 9, 2023 —
Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) proudly presents the critically- acclaimed production of Bluebeard’s Castle reinterpreted by London’s visionary opera creators Theatre of Sound as an exploration of a couple living with dementia and featuring operatic superstar Gerald Finley as Bluebeard, in his only Canadian appearance for 2023.
Originally premiering in London, UK, The Guardian hailed this work a “powerhouse” and “unforgettable,” earning the performance five stars, while the UK’s prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Awards awarded Bluebeard’s Castle “best opera of the year.”
”“...boldly reimagined…”—The Times of London
📸 Photo from the London production by Mihaela Bodlovic courtesy of Theatre of Sound.
With only three performances in Canada, this thought-provoking interpretation of one of the greatest operas of the 20th century is presented by AtG at Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre, where the gothic horror story becomes an intimate and poignant love story. This marks AtG’s first live production since 2020, as well as the first time that the multi-award-winning experimental opera company is presenting a production developed by another company.
“We saw this work, and thought, wow, this opera was created in the spirit of an Against the Grain Theatre production. It’s contemporary, sort of radical in its interpretation, and bravely introduces a new and challenging narrative aspect—the experience of dementia—which has affected so many of our families and communities,” said Joel Ivany, Artistic Director of AtG. “We were so moved by the performance and the originality of the production that we wanted to share it with our audiences here at home in Canada. Plus, Gerald is simply incredible in the role.”
The intimate reimagining of Bartok’s classic opera was originally produced by the boundary-breaking performing arts company Theatre of Sound in London under the dynamic direction of Daisy Evans and conductor Stephen Higgins. For the creation of this production, the team worked with families living with dementia, exploring the role of music in key moments of their lives.
“Here in Canada, over half a million people are living with dementia, and that number is projected to rise,” said Robin Whiffen, General Director of AtG. “We know this is an issue that’s impacting so many families and communities, and we’re proud to present a truly innovative opera that explores this condition with artistic sensitivity and gravitas.”
📸 Original artwork by Ukrainian illustration artist Daria Filippova, commissioned by Against the Grain Theatre
”Skillful reimagining turns Gothic thriller into a tale of dementia.—Telegraph UK
Bluebeard’s Castle is being performed at Harbourfront Centre in The Fleck Dance Theatre. Performances are on March 29th at 7:30 PM; March 31st – at 7:30 PM; and April 1st at 1:30 PM.
To purchase a ticket to one of only three performances, please visit: https://harbourfrontcentre.com/event/bluebeards-castle/
To learn more about the production, please visit: https://atgtheatre.com/
About the Artists
Gerald Finley — Bluebeard
Grammy Award-winning Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley (Bluebeard) is one of the most revered and influential artists of our time, with celebrated performances at the world’s major opera and concert venues, and recordings on major labels in a wide variety of repertoire. His extensive career is devoted to the complete spectrum of vocal art, encompassing operatic, orchestral and song repertoire, collaborating with the greatest composers, orchestras and conductors.
Charlotte Hellekant — Judith
Charlotte Hellekant (Judith) is one of Scandinavia’s leading mezzo-sopranos with a career equally successful on both the opera stage and concert platform. She has made her mark in opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic, notably at the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra national de Paris and Glyndebourne Festival.
Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) is a multi-award-winning Canadian experimental opera company dedicated to creating boundary-breaking, genre-defying vocal works and films staged in surprising locations emphasizing innovative storytelling and memorable artistic experiences. AtG is the creator of the internationally acclaimed film Messiah/Complex and the ongoing Opera Pub series.
Established in 2010 and still evolving, AtG is committed to revitalizing the operatic art form by introducing diverse audiences to outside-the-box opera experiences, creating daring re-interpretations of classical repertoire, and offering thrilling, intimate, and unforgettable experiences shared between artists and audiences.
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