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Review of Seattle Opera’s Bluebeard’s Castle & Erwartung

Sunday, March 1st, 2009
Posted in Reviews by Joel Gross

Plato, one of his law school buddies and I went and watched the Seattle Opera put on Bluebeard’s Castle and Erwartung last night.‚  It was my first time going to the opera and I really enjoyed it.‚  Beautiful voices, great orchestra and fun plots.‚  I liked Bluebeard’s Castle more, but I think Plato & his buddy liked Erwartung better.‚  Maybe drinking the Jack Daniel’s Plato secretly smuggled in helped lol.

The plot synopsis for Bluebeard’s Castle is below:

Place: A huge, dark hall in a castle, with seven locked doors.
Time:

Judith insists that all the doors be opened, to allow light to enter into the forbidding interior, insisting further that her demands are based in her love for Bluebeard. Bluebeard refuses, saying that they are private places not to be explored by others, and asking Judith to love him but ask no questions. Judith persists, and eventually prevails over his resistance.

The first door opens to reveal a torture chamber, stained with blood. Repelled, but then intrigued, Judith pushes on. Behind the second door is a storehouse of weapons, and behind the third a storehouse of riches. Bluebeard urges her on. Behind the fourth door is a secret garden of great beauty; behind the fifth, a window onto Bluebeard’s vast kingdom. All is now sunlit, but blood has stained the riches, watered the garden, and grim clouds throw blood-red shadows over Bluebeard’s kingdom.

Bluebeard pleads with her to stop: the castle is as bright as it can get, and will not get any brighter, but Judith refuses to be stopped after coming this far, and opens the penultimate sixth door, as a shadow passes over the castle. This is the first room that has not been somehow stained with blood; a silent silvery lake is all that lies within, “a lake of tears”. Bluebeard begs Judith to simply love him, and ask no more questions. The last door must be shut forever. But she persists, asking him about his former wives, and then accusing him of having murdered them, suggesting that their blood was the blood everywhere, that their tears were those that filled the lake, and that their bodies lie behind the last door. At this, Bluebeard hands over the last key.

Behind the door are Bluebeard’s three former wives, but still alive, dressed in crowns and jewellery. They emerge silently, and Bluebeard, overcome with emotion, prostrates himself before them and praises each in turn, finally turning to Judith and beginning to praise her as his fourth wife. She is horrified, begs him to stop, but it is too late. He dresses her in the jewellery they wear, which she finds exceedingly heavy. Her head drooping under the weight, she follows the other wives along a beam of moonlight through the seventh door. It closes behind her, and Bluebeard is left alone as all fades to total darkness.

The plot synopsis for Erwartung is below:

In a forest, a woman is in an apprehensive state as she waits for her lover. In the darkness, she comes across what she first thinks is a body, but then determines to be a tree-trunk. She is frightened and becomes more anxious, as she cannot find the man she is looking for anywhere. She then finds a dead body, and sees that it is her lover, the man she has been waiting for. She calls out for assistance, but there is no response. She tries to revive him, and addresses him as if he were living, angrily charging him with being unfaithful to her. She then asks herself what she is to do with her life, as her lover is dead.

Both operas were entertaining and worth seeing.