Tickets now on sale!
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
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
- 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
“ …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
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).
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.
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.
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.
Production & Design
Assistant Stage Manager
Apprentice Stage Manager
Head of Wardrobe
Remington North Services
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!
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
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
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.