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Bluebeard’s Castle

This Bluebeard’s Castle is a love story.

Composer: Béla Bartók

Librettist/Director: Daisy Evans

Conductor/Arranger: Stephen Higgins

Starring: Gerald Finley, Bass-Baritone; Charlotte Hellekant, Mezzo-Soprano

Language: English

Running Time: 70 Minutes

A wholehearted 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 and Sweden’s leading Mezzo-soprano Charlotte Hellekant.

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.

The Fleck Dance Theatre

Performance Dates:

  • March 29th & 31st 7:30 PM
  • April 1st — 1:30 PM

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

Tickets: Available on the Harbourfront Centre’s Website. Click the button below

Digital Programme

…boldly reimagined…

The Times of London

📸 Photo of Charlotte Hellkant as Judith and Gerald Finley as Bluebeard by Dahlia Katz

A classic story retold.

Bluebeard brings his wife, Judith, home. “Is this really Bluebeard’s Castle”, she asks, looking around the suburban hallway.

Instead of ominous doors, a locked trunk sits in the living room. Judith begs for it to be opened over and over again, and as it is, memories spill out. A wedding, a child, a family.

This castle is not a dank, airless dungeon, but rather a happy home where Judith and Bluebeard have shared their most precious memories.

But now Judith is living with Dementia, and slips away from Bluebeard, leaving him alone with the shreds of their life.

This Bluebeard’s Castle is a love story.

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

Daisy Evans


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


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).

Gerald Finley


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.

Charlotte Hellekant


A compelling stage performer with a repertoire ranging from the baroque to contemporary classics, Charlotte Hellekant 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 on opera stages on both sides of the Atlantic, notably at the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra national de Paris and Glyndebourne Festival; and has inspired some of the world’s leading composers to write especially for her. This includes Toshio Hosokawa who created the role of Murasame for her in his acclaimed Matsukaze, and subsequently wrote his monodrama The Raven for her. Lyric roles include Charlotte (Werther) with Deutsche Oper Berlin and Carmen with Royal Swedish Opera, whilst Handel interpretations include Ino (Semele) at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and Cornelia (Giulio Cesare) for Opernhaus Zürich. She appeared as Marguérite in La Fura dels Baus’ spectacular production of La damnation de Faust at Salzburg Festival and sang the role of Judith in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle in concert at the Bergen International Festival.
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.
Holly Kroeker


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.
Alexis Celestine Wilson

Memories 1 & 2

Alexis Celestine Wilson is an Emerging Actor, Singer, Mover, Writer and Multidisciplinary Artist. She completed her performance training at Humber College (2021) where she graduated with top marks. She is currently continuing her studies in theatre at York University in Production and Multi-Media Arts. Her recent credits include (Casimir and Caroline) directed by Severn Thompson, (The Humans) directed by Christopher Stanton and (The Green Bird) directed by Adam Paolozza. Alexis is very excited to make her professional theatre debut with Against The Grain Theatre’s production of the Bluebeard’s Castle. She hopes to continue to inspire others through her art.
Jamaica Fraser

Memories 3 & 4

Jamaica Fraser, a 1st generation Canadian, is an emerging artist in the Toronto community. At the age of 2, she dreamed of being a performer, and now that dream is coming to fruition. Over the past year, she’s been able to work in film/Tv and choreograph/ direct a dance film. Recently, Jamaica booked a lead role in a short film called Swimmer, which was selected for New York Shorts and Toronto Shorts 2022.
Josée Young

Memories 5 & 6

Josée Young is a bilingual actor who performs in both French and English across Canada. She most recently was part of the trilingual film Rosie, which premiered at TIFF to sold-out audiences. Rosie made TIFF’s 2022 Canada’s Top Ten list as well as winning the Audience Choice Feature Award at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.

Selected theatre credits include the bilingual national tour of Canada 300, An Ideal Husband (Watermark Theatre); Capital Quiz/Le défi de la capitale (NCC); Our Lady of Delicias (Essential Collective Theatre); Hipcheck the Musical (Torrent Productions); Knickers (Globus Theatre); As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night (Acropolis Theatre). TV and Film credits include Workin’ Moms (CBC), Tormented (Narrow Edge Productions) and Drive (Izalco Films). She has worked for over 10 years as a bilingual voice-over artist with more than 450 credits.

Cody Black


Cody is thrilled to join the cast of Bluebeard's Castle with Against the Grain Theatre. Theatre credits include Gad in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Mirvish), Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (Soulpepper), Shane in Orphans (Coal Mine Theatre), Young Guido in Nine (Sheridan College), and workshop production (Stratford). Select Film/Television credits include Odd Squad, Clarice, and Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum. Special thanks to supportive family, friends, teachers and Daniel Birnbaum at The Talent House.
Bryony Faye Fowler


Bryony Faye Fowler is excited to make her ATG debut in Bluebeard’s Castle. Bryony recently moved to Ontario from her native Newfoundland where her stage credits included originating the role of “Hercules the Monkey” in Wonderbolt Theatre’s The Best Medicine Show, “Gretl” in The Sound of Music with OOTA and “Matilda” in Matilda (PMP). She has appeared on screen in CBC’s Son of A Critch and A Christmas Fury, as well as various short films and commercials. Bryony’s a competitive dancer, contortionist and gymnast who’s received numerous regional and national awards for solo dance, musical theatre, an Atlantic all-around championship (Wag Gymnastics) and RCM Gold Medal (Atlantic Region). She currently trains with Manjak’s Gymnastics and Abby Lee Dance Company and has trained with Canada’s National Ballet School, Ecole National de Cirque and Musical Stage’s One Song Glory. Upcoming projects include Billy Elliot with Neptune Theatre in Halifax.
Jaclyn Grossman

Judith (cover)

Hailed as an “exciting dramatic soprano” (Opera Canada), Jaclyn Grossman is a Resident Artist with Pacific Opera Victoria and a member of the Rebanks Family Fellowship with Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. She is the 2022 winner of the IRCPA Blueprints Award and alumna of the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme, Banff Opera in the 21st Century, and Sewanee Music Festival. A proud co-founder of Likht Ensemble, Jaclyn is passionate about sharing music by Jewish composers from the Holocaust. In August 2022 she performed the title role in Bas-Sheve (Henech Kon), a Yiddish opera in its North American premiere with the Ashkenaz Festival, Milken Center, and Yiddish Summer Weimar. This season, Jaclyn will perform recitals in Montreal with the Schulich School of Music’s alumni series, Chattanooga, as part of a collaboration with the Chattanooga Symphony and Chattanooga Public Library, and the Richard Bradshaw Free Concert Series at the Canadian Opera Company, and will cover the role of Judith in Against the Grain Theatre’s production of Bluebeard’s Castle.

Production & Design

Production Manager

Stage Manager

Assistant Stage Manager

Apprentice Stage Manager

Head of Wardrobe

Wig Consultant

Set Build 



Scenic Treatment

Remington North

Caitlin Mears* 

Tiffany Lam 

Bridget Ramsay⁺ 

Samantha Thompson-Spence 

Rebecca McDermid


Factory Theatre

Remington North Services


Factory Theatre

The original production of Bluebeard’s Castle

A co-production by Theatre of Sound and Opera Ventures
Director and Translator: Daisy Evans
Conductor and Musical Arrangement: Stephen Higgins
Scenic and Costume Design: Adrian Linford
Lighting Design: Jake Wiltshire

Production Manager — Remmington North

Stage Manager — Caitlin Mears* 

Assistant Stage Manager — Tiffany Lam 

Apprentice Stage Manager — Bridget Ramsay⁺ 

Head of Wardrobe — Samantha Thompson-Spence 

Wig Consultant — Rebecca McDermid 

Set Build — McWood 

Set Build — Factory Theatre

Set Build — Remington North Services

Scenic Treatment — McWood

Scenic Treatment — Factory Theatre

“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


📸 Photos by Dahlia Katz (2022)

Gerald Finley sat down with Lizzie Bowman of Opera Canada to discuss his signature role: Bluebeard!

Watch the video OR listen to the podcast!

Listen to the Podcast

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.

Two Sides to Every Story

For our production, we commission Ukrainian Artist Daria Filippova, a fantastic illustration artist. Her work inspired sentimentality in us, which we thought would perfectly capture the use of flashback memories in this piece.

Photographs from the original London production inspired the concept. The images we selected to base the illustrations on capture a clear perspective on the relationship between Judith and Bluebeard and their individual emotional states and struggles.

Education & Engagement

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. 

Click below to learn more about Saeideh

Saeideh Rajabzadeh

Education & Engagement Consultant

Saeideh Rajabzadeh (she/her) is a Persian-Canadian mezzo-soprano, musicologist, and community builder with a passion to serve and to meaningfully contribute to the conversations of diversity and inclusion through her research and artistic work.
In the past two years, she has published research on Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, performed at the Canadian Opera Company’s Asian Heritage Month Showcase Series, and led the largest choir in Ottawa’s history entirely digitally. Outside of arts, she currently works with nurse educators across Canada, which is in line with her interest in learning about health equity and nursing education.

To find out more about her work and the Singer’s Laboratory Webinar Series, visit her website (click below).

Interactive Education Experience

We are excited to offer an Interactive Discovery Experience for the run of Bluebeard’s Castle!

Curated by our Education & Engagement Consultant, Saeideh Rajabzadeh, and supported by Opera InReach, AtG and RDS, this experience includes stations where you can discover and learn about the opera and its important themes at your own pace.

You can play a video game, download an app, or simply try out a few board games to learn about dementia. There are lots of links, videos, and resources to understand the experiences of those living with dementia.

One of our stations will spotlight operas that are written about dementia or are dementia-friendly by addressing a variety of access needs.

In another corner, you can pick up replicas of props and guess what deeper meaning they might present on stage and what they symbolize!

If none interest you, check out the Fun Fact Medley station, where you can pick up different cards and learn something interesting randomly!

*Be sure to check out the poetry around the lobby inspired by the experiences of those living with dementia. 

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.

Community Engagement Partners:

Rare Dementia Support

We are proud to have Rare Dementia Support Canada as our community engagement partner for Bluebeard’s Castle. They have been crucial in sharing knowledge and resources about dementia and rarer forms of dementia. On top of their expert advice, they also have provided a poetry installation for the lobby called “Where to Begin,” which will be present at all performances of Bluebeard’s Castle.

Rare Dementia Support Canada, Community Engagement Partner

Rare Dementia Support Canada is a virtual support community for people affected by rare or young onset from across. Our vision is that anyone in Canada affected by a rarer or young onset dementia diagnosis has access to timely information and advice, tailored and continuous support, and connection with others affected by similar conditions in a space of mutual respect and understanding.

Learn more about “Where to Begin” and see some examples of the poems below.

Support Ground-Breaking Opera

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