Author Topic: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle  (Read 30401 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #140 on: February 07, 2015, 12:50:56 PM »
Seeing Bluebeard tonight at the Met, on a double bill with Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, both conducted by Gergiev. (I have not heard his recording.) Don't know the Tchaikovsky at all. In Bluebeard, the singers are Nadja Michael and Mikhail Petrenko, and in Iolanta, Anna Netrebko.

Very much looking forward to both.

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #141 on: February 07, 2015, 01:38:09 PM »
Tchaikovsky's last opera like most of his work is carefully written and scored but doesn't have his topmost memorable material, perhaps as the case with all his operas; it pursues again the theme of sexual transcendence, but instead of the girl being asleep this time she's blind. Wish I was in NYC too...

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #142 on: February 09, 2015, 04:06:01 AM »
Wish I was in NYC too...

For those of us not in NYC, it'll be transmitted to movie theatres "Live in HD" on Valentine's Day.

Piotr Beczała is the Vaudémont in the Met's Iolanta.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #143 on: January 14, 2021, 08:14:19 AM »
I thought I would revive this thread from the ashes...

I’ve acquired many recordings of Bluebeard’s Castle over the years. Here are the ones I own:

- Zhidkova/White/Gergiev (LSO Live)
- Ludwig/Berry/Kertész (Decca)
- Otter/Tomlinson/Haitink (EMI)
- DeYoung/Relyea/Gardner (Chandos)
- Norman/Polgár/Boulez (DG)
- Troyanos/Nimsgern/Boulez (Sony)
- DeYoung/Tomlinson/Salonen (Signum Classics)
- Hellwigh/Koréh/Süsskind (Praga Digitals)
- Elias/Hines/Ormandy (Sony)
- Marton/Ramey/A. Fischer (Sony)
- Kasza/Melis/Ferencsik (Hungaroton)
- Szendrenyi/Struckmann/Inbal (Denon)
- Kallisch/Fried/Eötvös (Hänssler)
- Töpper/Fischer-Dieskau/Fricsay (DG)
- Varady/Fischer-Dieskau/Sawallisch (DG)
- Szönyi/Székely/Dorati (Mercury Living Presence)
- Kováts/Sass/Solti (Decca)
- Komlosi/Polgár/I. Fischer (Philips)
- Charbonnet/Tomlinson/Saraste (Warner Classics)

The ones in highlighted are my favorites and ones I couldn’t live without.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2021, 07:21:13 AM by Mirror Image »
“Competitions are for horses; not artists.” - Béla Bartók

Offline Mookalafalas

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #144 on: January 28, 2021, 05:24:30 AM »
I tried to enjoy BC several times, unsuccessfully. Then I saw an old George Solti performance on video--dated style, but great singers. Finally, it made sense! No doubt the best approach for opera in general, but maybe even better for this one. (BTW, I don't recommend watching the 2015 Opera National de Paris version).   
It's all good...

Offline Brewski

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #145 on: January 28, 2021, 05:47:15 AM »
I tried to enjoy BC several times, unsuccessfully. Then I saw an old George Solti performance on video--dated style, but great singers. Finally, it made sense! No doubt the best approach for opera in general, but maybe even better for this one. (BTW, I don't recommend watching the 2015 Opera National de Paris version).   

Glad that Solti version did the trick. I like it, quite a bit, but it's also a hoot. Solti and the LPS are excellent, as are Kolos Kovats and Sylvia Sass, but it's the production itself that gives the occasional chuckle. E.g., behind the "garden" door, the flowers look a bit fake, and in general, the contents behind each door kept reminding me of old 1950s sci-fi movies. But never mind, it all comes together to get the job done.

I have seen 3 productions live. Two were from the Met (the more recent is the better one, and shows up in regular rotation on the Met's streaming schedule, coupled with a one-act Tchaikovsky opera, Iolanta), and a decent, if haplessly produced version by the Hungarian State Opera, when the company came to NYC a few years ago. Some writers have commented that the opera works better in concert (i.e., unstaged) than many, which may be true.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #146 on: January 28, 2021, 07:23:50 AM »
I tried to enjoy BC several times, unsuccessfully. Then I saw an old George Solti performance on video--dated style, but great singers. Finally, it made sense! No doubt the best approach for opera in general, but maybe even better for this one. (BTW, I don't recommend watching the 2015 Opera National de Paris version).   

I’m glad that Bluebeard’s Castle has finally clicked with you. The work itself is steeped in symbolism and I think, although this is just my own interpretation of it, that Bluebeard is actually Bartók himself. He is showing the listener the trials and tribulations of what it means to live the life as an artist. Each door reveals a side of the artist. Of course, I could be far off the mark as this is just what I’ve gathered from the text. Anyway, not even worrying about the text, the music itself is without a doubt incredible in every way. I’ve read a mini-book (and I say ‘mini-book’ because it was only a section within a larger book) on Bluebeard and it really didn’t tell me much. I think each listener will come away with their own interpretation and all the better if you do. I thought the Solti video performance was ‘okay’. I thought it would’ve been a bit better if they could have made it more medieval and gothic. There were parts that looks futuristic and some of the effects were tacky beyond belief, but the performance itself is quite good. I’ve got a recording of it.
“Competitions are for horses; not artists.” - Béla Bartók

Offline pjme

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #147 on: January 28, 2021, 07:40:34 AM »


I used to have this version as an LP. The organ (fifth door) was thunderingly effective....Possibly the Russian soloists were a bit ... heavy....? I don't remember.
However, I discovered the work on DGG, in German,  with Fricsay/Fischer Dieskau and Hertha Töpper.
I definitely need a recent recording, in Hungarian, with a good sounding organ!

In Antwerp I saw it in a very discreet, yet very effective setting: light effects (from small lamps on the music stands to sophisticated spots) changed the concert hall into a castle. The soloists were Andrea Melath and Alexandru Agache .   

Offline Brewski

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #148 on: January 28, 2021, 08:07:23 AM »


I used to have this version as an LP. The organ (fifth door) was thunderingly effective....Possibly the Russian soloists were a bit ... heavy....? I don't remember.
However, I discovered the work on DGG, in German,  with Fricsay/Fischer Dieskau and Hertha Töpper.
I definitely need a recent recording, in Hungarian, with a good sounding organ!

In Antwerp I saw it in a very discreet, yet very effective setting: light effects (from small lamps on the music stands to sophisticated spots) changed the concert hall into a castle. The soloists were Andrea Melath and Alexandru Agache .

Any of the four highlighted in John's list above would probably fill the bill. (They are among my favorites, too.) Though that said, now I need to listen to all of them again, keeping the organ in mind!

That Antwerp production sounds quite interesting, and underlines the idea that you don't need much in the way of sets or props. At a NY Philharmonic concert a few years ago, led by Esa-Pekka Salonen with Michelle DeYoung and Gabor Bretz, the singers stood in front of the orchestra, with no other staging. There was a single, dramatic effect: When the fifth door opened, the hall's house lights came on, full blast, and after a minute or two were dimmed again. Great example of "less is more."

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #149 on: January 28, 2021, 08:31:13 AM »


I used to have this version as an LP. The organ (fifth door) was thunderingly effective....Possibly the Russian soloists were a bit ... heavy....? I don't remember.
However, I discovered the work on DGG, in German,  with Fricsay/Fischer Dieskau and Hertha Töpper.
I definitely need a recent recording, in Hungarian, with a good sounding organ!

In Antwerp I saw it in a very discreet, yet very effective setting: light effects (from small lamps on the music stands to sophisticated spots) changed the concert hall into a castle. The soloists were Andrea Melath and Alexandru Agache .

I would say for your first Hungarian-sung Bluebeard, Kertész on Decca should be your first. It’s one of my favorites, but finding a copy of it will prove easier than the other three favorites I highlighted in the list I posted of the recordings I own.
“Competitions are for horses; not artists.” - Béla Bartók

Offline Brewski

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #150 on: January 29, 2021, 05:20:48 AM »
Browsing YouTube, I found a number of the versions mentioned here, including the Solti film, the Kertész, Boulez/Troyanos, and what looks like the Met's old version with Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey, and James Levine.

But this one below was new to me, and is a treasure. Directed by Sándor Silló in 2005, its black-and-white photography sets a magnificently eerie tone. (From a comment online: "Bergman-esque") Singing is excellent. My sole criticism is a bit of white noise, like an old record, perhaps due to high recording level during the transfer.

Bluebeard / Kékszakállú - István Kovács
Judith / Judit - Klára Kolonits
Bard / regös - Tamás Jordán

Conductor / vezényel - György Selmeczi
Director / Sándor Silló

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5r1soNdUpo

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Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Mookalafalas

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #151 on: January 29, 2021, 06:13:34 AM »
I’m glad that Bluebeard’s Castle has finally clicked with you. The work itself is steeped in symbolism and I think, although this is just my own interpretation of it, that Bluebeard is actually Bartók himself. He is showing the listener the trials and tribulations of what it means to live the life as an artist. Each door reveals a side of the artist. Of course, I could be far off the mark as this is just what I’ve gathered from the text. Anyway, not even worrying about the text, the music itself is without a doubt incredible in every way. I’ve read a mini-book (and I say ‘mini-book’ because it was only a section within a larger book) on Bluebeard and it really didn’t tell me much. I think each listener will come away with their own interpretation and all the better if you do. I thought the Solti video performance was ‘okay’. I thought it would’ve been a bit better if they could have made it more medieval and gothic. There were parts that looks futuristic and some of the effects were tacky beyond belief, but the performance itself is quite good. I’ve got a recording of it.

  I love the female lead in the Solti--both as a singer and a performer. Brewski's comment that it occasionally looked "like a 50s Sci-fi film" is a good call, though. No doubt it seemed impressive when it first came out...
  The 2015 Paris version IS done like sci-fi--or at least, with huge flickering monitors all over. The female lead, far from being winning but inquisitive young bride seems like a character from Sartre's "No Exit". After just a few minutes I was thinking "Hurry up, Blue-Beard, kill her already..." ???
It's all good...

Offline Brewski

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #152 on: January 29, 2021, 06:27:20 AM »
  The 2015 Paris version IS done like sci-fi--or at least, with huge flickering monitors all over. The female lead, far from being winning but inquisitive young bride seems like a character from Sartre's "No Exit". After just a few minutes I was thinking "Hurry up, Blue-Beard, kill her already..." ???

Of course, now I'm really curious to see this, even though you advised otherwise. (Your last sentence made me laugh.  ;D )

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
« Reply #153 on: January 29, 2021, 07:56:51 AM »
  I love the female lead in the Solti--both as a singer and a performer. Brewski's comment that it occasionally looked "like a 50s Sci-fi film" is a good call, though. No doubt it seemed impressive when it first came out...
  The 2015 Paris version IS done like sci-fi--or at least, with huge flickering monitors all over. The female lead, far from being winning but inquisitive young bride seems like a character from Sartre's "No Exit". After just a few minutes I was thinking "Hurry up, Blue-Beard, kill her already..." ???

:D

I’m actually one of those people who doesn’t enjoy watching an opera and prefers listening at home to a recording. I find the experience more immersive and it’s easier for me to follow the action (if I want to do this --- most of time I don’t even follow the libretto).
“Competitions are for horses; not artists.” - Béla Bartók