Bluebeard’s Castle – Gianni Schicchi
Stavros Niarchos Hall
Bluebeard’s Castle – Gianni Schicchi

Opera - Béla Bartók & Giacomo Puccini

March 2023
Δημιουργική Ομάδα

Conductor: Vassilis Christopoulos

With the Orchestra and Soloists of the Greek National Opera

 

Πρωταγωνιστές Παράστασης

Ticket prices: €15, €20, €25, €30, €35, €40, €45, €60
Students, children: €12
Limited visibility seats: €10

Stavros Niarchos Hall

Opera

Bluebeard’s Castle – Gianni Schicchi

Béla Bartók & Giacomo Puccini

Available Dates

  • 09, 12, 19, 24 Mar 2023

Opera double bill

Stavros Niarchos Hall of the Greek National Opera – SNFCC

 

Starts at: 19.30 (Sunday at: 18.30) | clock

 

The Greek National Opera presents an anthology piece comprising two magnificent one-act operas: one dramatic – Bluebeard’s Castle in a new staging by Themelis Glynatsis; the other comic – Gianni Schicchi directed by John Fulljames. Two works that both premiered in the same year (1918), in Budapest and New York respectively. The evening opens with Bartók’s brooding and bloody masterpiece, and closes with Puccini’s dark comedy – a light-hearted farce considered the most radiant and joyous work in the composer’s oeuvre. This production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the GNO’s artistic outreach.

 

Bluebeard’s Castle – Béla Bartók • New production

Director: Themelis Glynatsis

Sets, costumes: Leslie Travers

Projection design: Marios Gampierakis, Chrysoula Korovesi

Sound design: Tasos Tsigkas

Featuring: Tassos Apostolou, Violetta Lousta

 

Bluebeard’s Castle by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók is based on the folktale La Barbe bleue by Charles Perrault, published in 1697. A rare work of crisp concision, Bartók’s opera boasts just two characters – Bluebeard and his most recent wife, Judith. Wishing to learn more about her husband’s past, Judith opens the seven doors inside Bluebeard’s castle, one after the other. Behind each she finds a different world, untold riches, the glory and heroism of her husband – but also pain, tears, and blood. The symbolist text written by Béla Balázs gave Bartók the opportunity to compose one of his most impressive scores, one that makes full use of the timbres offered up by an exceptionally large orchestra –including even the imposing tones of a church organ– to delineate each of the work’s images with incredible power.

The work’s director, Themelis Glynatsis, notes: “The Bluebeard folktale, one of the bloodiest stories in the Western canon, tells of an aristocrat who marries young women only to murder them when they defy his command forbidding them to explore his castle. Bartók transforms the Bluebeard story into a contemporary operatic thriller, one deeply mystical, suffused with symbolism, and marked by an uncommon psychological lucidity and emotional intensity. Bluebeard’s Castle, the only opera the Hungarian composer ever wrote, is seen as one of the most important operatic works of the 20th century due to its ground-breaking music and dramaturgical approach. The work functions as a symbolist anatomy of a human relationship, and as a descent into the labyrinthine psyche that lies hidden inside the mysterious blue-bearded duke. This production takes a conscious step away from the serial killer lore that usually trails the work to focus instead on a man and a woman on their wedding night, sinking gradually ever deeper into a universe consisting of multiple realities and psychological trauma, repressed memories and unfamiliar spaces.

 

Gianni Schicchi – Giacomo Puccini • Revival

Director: John Fulljames

Sets, costumes: Richard Hudson

In the title role: Dionysios Sourbis

 

The second part of this double bill –a polar opposite to the evening’s first work– brings a dark, borderline grotesque comedy to the stage.
Known mainly for his intensely emotional melodramas La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly, Italian composer Giacomo Puccini astounded one and all with how successfully he tackled a comic theme in Gianni Schicchi.
The libretto by Giovacchino Forzano is based on an episode that appears in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Following the death of a rich man, the wily Gianni Schicchi helps the relatives of the departed –and himself above all, of course– to pocket his substantial estate.
The similarities between Gianni Schicchi and the equally comic Falstaff are obvious but, in contrast to Verdi, Puccini does not portray specific, individualised characters with his music but rather –in the manner of the commedia dell’arte tradition– renders stock character types.
On its first presentation in Rome, in 1919, the work was considered the composer’s most sparkling and, as such, considerably welcome in the bleak moments following the First World War.
With incredible expressive economy and only the most essential of musical strokes, Puccini creates portraits capturing each of the many relatives, and naturally the protagonist too. The opera is also famous for its short aria “O mio babbino caro” (“O my dear papa”), which Maria Callas regularly performed separately at her recitals.
The GNO is reviving one of its most popular productions, directed by John Fulljames, that was programmed by its then Artistic Director Stefanos Lazaridis to premiere during the 2007/08 season at the Olympia Theatre.