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The Gothic Thriller Retold
Composed by: Béla Bartók
Libretto by: Daisy Evans
Starring: Gerald Finley, Baritone
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 superstar Gerald Finley.
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.*
*This performance will be performed live only.
Cast & Creative Team
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.
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.
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).
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 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
📸 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.
Support Ground-Breaking Opera
As a small arts organization, we strive to showcase experimental works and diverse voices—and this means taking risks: creatively and financially. If you are able, please consider a donation to AtG, so that we can bring more outside-the-box operatic experiences to you and continue to provide employment opportunities to artists and artisans nationwide.