Bluebeard’s Castle

The Gothic Thriller Retold

Composed by: Béla Bartók

Libretto by: Daisy Evans

Starring: Gerald Finley, Baritone; Adrianne Pieczonka, Soprano

Language: English

Running Time: 60 Minutes

A haunting reimagining of one of the greatest operas of the 20th century. 

Our second show of this season will be a contemporary retelling of Bluebeard’s Castle by Béla Bartók, starring Canadian operatic superstars Gerald Finley and Adrianne Pieczonka.

This radical retelling, originally produced by the ground-breaking opera company Theatre of Sound in London, England, features a new English libretto and orchestral arrangement, reframing the piece as a love story between a long-married couple living with dementia.

Presented at the Fleck Dance Theatre, this gothic horror story becomes an intimate and poignant operatic experience and marks our first live production since 2020.*

Tickets will be available soon. To be notified when they become available, subscribe to our newsletter!

 

*This performance will be performed live only.

The Fleck Dance Theatre

Performance Dates: March 29th, 31st, and April 1st, 2023

Location: The Fleck Dance Theatre; 207 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 1A7

Tickets: Available on the Harbourfront Centre’s Website

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The opera’s symbolist paraphernalia is replaced by domestic naturalism both in terms of design and direction.

The Guardian’s Review of the Original Production

Cast & Creative Team

Gerald Finley

Bluebeard

Gerald Finley
Bass- Baritone

Grammy Award-winning Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley 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 CD and DVD with 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.
Recent appearance highlights include the 2018 BBC Last Night of the Proms where he
performed a range of songs including Stanford’s Songs of the Sea and ‘Soliloquy’ from
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, Iago in a new production of Otello at the Bayerische
Staatsoper and the Canadian Opera Company, the title role in Bluebeard’s Castle and Count
Almaviva Le Nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, Count Almaviva at Bayerische
Staatsoper, the title role in Falstaff at the Vienna State Opera, Beethoven Symphony No.9
conducted by Bernard Haitink in Munich and at the Salzburg Festival with Riccardo Muti,
the opening gala concert at the Paris Opera with Gustavo Dudamel; Bluebeard’s Castle in a
highly acclaimed production at Stone Nest in London and with l’Orchestre de Paris, the
Vienna Symphony and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Vaughan Williams Symphony
No.1 at the Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier. Recent recitals include the
Wigmore Hall, Middle Temple Hall, the NDR Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Vienna, Prague
and the USA.
The 2022/23 season sees Finley return to San Francisco Opera as Anthony in the world
premiere of John Adams’ Anthony and Cleopatra; the Opéra national de Paris as Scarpia
Tosca and Count in Neta Jones’ new production of Le Nozze di Figaro; The Royal Opera
House as Wolfram Tannhäuser; Bayerische Staatsoper in one of his signature roles: Iago
Otello and Staatsoper Unter den Linden to make his debut as the title role in Der fliegende
Holländer. On the concert platform, Finley joins Lahti Symphony Orchestra for Kaija
Saariaho’s True Fire under the baton of Dalia Staveska and a concert and recital at the
Tongyeong International Music Festival.
Born in Montreal he began singing as a chorister in Ottawa, Canada, and completed his
musical studies at the Royal College of Music, King’s College, Cambridge, and the National
Opera Studio. He is a Fellow and Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music. In 2014 he
climbed Kilimanjaro for the charity Help Musicians UK. In 2017 he was appointed
Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Adrianne Pieczonka

Judith

Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka has performed on the world’s finest opera and concert stages for over three decades. After studying voice at the University of Western Ontario and University of Toronto, she moved to Europe where she won First Prize at the Voice Competition in s-Hertogenbosch,The Netherlands and First Prize at the Voice Competition in La Plaine sur Mer, France in 1988.
She began her career at The Vienna Volksoper in 1989 and in 1991 she became a member of The Vienna State Opera where she has appeared in countless roles from Mozart to Wagner for three decades.
Adrianne has sung leading roles at, among others, La Scala, The Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Bavarian State Opera, Berlin State Opera, Los Angeles Opera and in ten productions with the COC. She has performed at summer festivals in Bayreuth, Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Lucerne and Edinburgh and has performed in concert and recital at many of the world’s great concert halls. Adrianne’s signature roles include many heroines of Wagner and Strauss operas as well as Tosca and Leonore in Fidelio.
She was named Kammersängerin by the Austrian government in 2007, recognizing her long career at the Vienna State Opera, and was made Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music. She is the recipient of a 2004 Dora Award for her portrayal of Sieglinde in Die Walküre at the COC and a Juno Award for her 2010 CD recording of Puccini Arias. In 2021, Analekta Records released “Lyrical Echos”, a CD featuring the Lieder of Clara Schumann sung by Adrianne with pianist Liz Upchurch.
Since 2019, Adrianne has been Chair in Voice at The Glenn Gould School at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
Daisy Evans

Director/Librettist

Daisy Evans works in opera, film and theatre as a director and writer. She received a nomination for her production of Bluebeard’s Castle at the 2022 South Bank Awards and is a recipient of the Sky Arts Futures Fund for her work as an opera director. Productions include Bluebeard's Castle (Theatre of Sound), films of The Telephone (Edinburgh International Festival) and of Hansel and Gretel (Scottish Opera), Strozzi (Shakespeare’s Globe), Don Pasquale (WNO), Opera Highlights (Scottish Opera), Disney Fantasia (The Vaults, Disney), La traviata (Longborough Festival Opera), King Arthur and the Fairy Queen (Barbican, Academy of Ancient Music), Carmen remastered (Barbican, ROH), Falstaff (Wilton’s Music Hall, Fulham Opera) and Wakening Shadow (Glyndebourne Festival), among others. She is Founder Director of Silent Opera, where she has directed a new version of Hansel and Gretel, Vixen, Don Giovanni, L'Orfeo, La bohème and Dido & Aeneas.
Stephen Higgins

Conductor/Arranger

Stephen Higgins is a conductor, musical director, arranger and producer who has worked extensively in the UK and abroad.

He has conducted many world premieres: 'The Way Back Home', directed by Katie Mitchell, at the Young Vic and Opera de Paris, 'Dr Dee' by Damon Albarn, directed by Rufus Norris, at the Manchester Festival and at ENO, and 'The Duchess of Malfi', a collaboration with ENO and punchdrunk.

Other conducting credits include 'Magic Flute' for ENO, ‘Owen Wingrave’ for the Bastille, ‘Thais’ for Chelsea Opera Group, 'L'Elisir d'amore' and ‘Hansel and Gretel’ for Opera Holland Park and ‘Don Pasquale’ for WNO with a cast including Bryn Terfel and Andrew Shore.

Stephen worked with Sondheim on revivals of 'A little Night Music' and 'Sunday in the park with George' at the Châtelet theatre in Paris, conducted Gershwin’s ‘Crazy for You’ in Gothenburg, ‘Sweeney Todd’ in Bergen with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and 'Phantom of the Opera' in London's West End.
Stephen is musical director of ‘Silent Opera’ where he has created electronic scores presented alongside live performances of Don Giovanni and Janacek’s Vixen, as well as a new staging of the entirety of Disney’s ‘Fantasia’
2020 saw Stephen write and musically direct an update of the Carmen story as a Scandi-noir thriller which premiered on Norwegian network NRK
Stephen’s new company, ‘Theatre of Sound’ launched with a production of ‘Bluebeard’s Castle’ With 5 star reviews from across the national and international press, and a nomination for the South Banks awards, it is now set to tour the US and Canada.

Adrian Linford

Costume & Set Designer

Jake Wiltshire

Lighting Designer

Jake designs extensively both across the UK and Worldwide. His work has been seen with major UK opera companies inc WNO and ENO, Garsington Opera, the Barbican centre, many regional opera festivals and companies as well as nearly all of the UK’s senior music Conservatoires. Internationally, he’s worked in New York, Beijing and across Europe in a variety of spaces from traditional proscenium arch venues to unique site specific spaces including disused tram depots and an alpine mountain road tunnel.

Recent credits include: Amadigi and Le Comte Ory for Garsington Opera; Don Pasquale for Welsh National Opera; La donna del lago, Viva La Diva and Gypsy for Buxton International Opera Festival;The Cunning Little Vixen and La traviata, for Longborough Festival Opera; Margot La Rouge, Le villi and Pirates of Penzance for Opera Holland Park; Blue Beards Castle for Theatre of Sound (nominated for the Sky Arts opera Award) and Vixen for Silent Opera in association with ENO, (London, Helsinki, Trento and Beijing).

He is an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (HonARAM).

Anna Theodosakis

Associate Director

Anna Theodosakis is a stage director and choreographer based in Toronto. For the 2021/2022 season she directed The Magic Flute (Canadian Opera Company), Carmen (Saskatoon Opera), The Bells of Baddeck (Parks Canada), L’elisir d’amore (Western University), a workshop of The Limit of the Sun (Opera McGill), Love Songs by Ana Sokolovic (University of Ottawa/Musique 3 Femmes) and she choreographed The Tender Land (University of Toronto). Anna is a dramatic coach for the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio. She has been a sessional lecturer for the University of British Columbia and a guest lecturer with McGill University, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Lethbridge, the Glenn Gould School, the University of Ottawa, and the University of Manitoba. Anna is a RBC Future Launch Artist Mentor with the Association for Opera in Canada and a mentor for Pacific Opera Victoria’s Civic Engagement Quartet. www.annatheodosakis.com
Holly Kroeker

Répetiteur

Holly is an operatic vocal coach, collaborative pianist and répétiteur based in Montreal, QC. A graduate of Opera de Montreal’s Atelier Lyrique Young Artist Training Program (2018-2021), she currently works as pianist and assistant to musical formation for the program.
In the 2021-2022 season, her activities included principal rehearsal pianist for a double bill of Riders to the Sea/Le Flambeau de la nuit by Vaughn Williams/Tanguay-Labrosse (Opera de Montreal), Bizet’s Les pecheurs de perles (Jeunesse Musicales du Canada) , Cosi Fan Tutte (Edmonton Opera) and Die Zauberflote (Opera de Montreal).
In the summer of 2022, Holly was on faculty at the Banff Centre for the Arts & Creativity’s Opera in the 21st century program. Previously, she has participated as an intern pianist/coach in the program, where she worked on Prestini/Vavrek’s Silent Light, as well as a production of Bernstein’s Candide. She has also served as faculty pianist for ICAV/CVAI in Montreal.

Production & Design

Production Manager

Remington North

Costume Designer — Adrian Linford

Production Manager — Remmington North

“In such a tiny venue, with the audience just feet away, every glance, every nuance, was on display”

— The Observer’s Review of the Original Production

Media

📸 All photos from the original production by Mihaela Bodlovic courtesy of Theatre of Sound.

About the Show

A radical retelling conceived by Theatre of Sound

This production of Bluebeard’s Castle was originated by Theatre of Sound: a British arts organization that brings immersive storytelling through drama, music and electronics all in a singular experience.

Their mission is to break down boundaries between genres, utilizing their unique style of storytelling to serve the purpose of their productions, overcoming traditions that separate art forms from audiences. 

Learn more about Theatre of Sound here.

Transporting the story to today!

With a newly-commissioned English libretto and chamber orchestration, Bartók’s masterpiece is transformed into an intimate operatic experience relevant to audiences today.

This new adaptation of Bluebeard’s Castle retells the story through the lens of a family living with dementia and sheds light on the impact of this condition.

Who is Béla Bartók?

Béla Viktor János Bartók  (1881 – 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered to be one of the most significant composers of the 20th century, and he is also regarded as Hungary’s greatest composers.

On top of his contributions to the canon of Western classical music, he was also one of the founding scholars of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.

The Original Bluebeard’s Castle

Bluebeard’s Castle/A kékszakállú herceg vára (composed and revised between 1911-1917) is a one-act expressionist opera by Béla Bartók. The original libretto was written in Hungarian by Béla Balázs, a poet and friend of the composer, and is written in Hungarian, based on the French literary tale La Barbe bleue by Charles Perrault. The story centres on only two characters: Bluebeard and his new wife Judith; the two have just eloped, and Judith is coming home to Bluebeard’s castle for the first time. 

The Reality of Dementia

The term “dementia” doesn’t actually refer to one specific disease. Rather, it’s an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain.

Over 500,000 The number of Canadians living with dementia today.

912,000 The number of Canadians living with dementia in 2030.

76,000 The number of Canadians diagnosed with dementia every year.

65% of those diagnosed with dementia over the age of 65 are women.

1 in 5 Canadians have experience caring for someone living with dementia.

Learn more about Dementia from The Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

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