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Diego Matheus©2018 Medea Arts

Barber - Bartók A Hand of Bridge - Bluebeard’s Castle

From 17 January TO 25 January 2020
Teatro La Fenice - Venezia

Barber : A Hand of Bridge

Bartók : Bluebeard’s Castle

  • Conductor
    Diego Matheuz
  • Director
    Fabio Ceresa
  • Performers
    Duke Bluebeard: Gidon Saks
    Judith: Ausrine Stundyte
    Manuela Custer
Details on the Performance

A Hand of Bridge

A Hand of Bridge, opus 35, is an opera in one act composed by Samuel Barber with libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti, and is possibly the shortest opera that is regularly performed: it lasts about nine minutes. It premiered as a part of Menotti’s Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto on 17 June 1959 at the Teatro Caio Melisso. The United States premiere occurred the next year. The opera consists of two unhappily married couples playing a hand of bridge, during which each character has an arietta in which he or she professes his or her inner desires.

Andy Warhol, a good friend of Barber’s, designed the cover for the opera’s vocal score.

Bluebeard’s Castle

Bluebeard’s Castle (Hungarian: A kékszakállú herceg vára; literally: The Blue-Bearded Duke’s Castle) is a one-act expressionist opera by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. The libretto was written 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 opera lasts only a little over an hour and there are only two singing characters onstage: Bluebeard (Kékszakállú), and his new wife Judith (Judit); the two have just eloped and Judith is coming home to Bluebeard’s castle for the first time.

Source © Teatro La Fenice

  • Venue Info
  • Seating Plan
  • Synopsis

Teatro La Fenice - Venezia Location Campo San Fantin, 1965 - 30124 Venezia Italie

  • Venue's Capacity: 1000

The Venue's History in few words …

A bar is available in the Theater offering few things to eat during the interval.

You may also visit the theater during the day, audioguides are available in english. During day time, the bar aslo serves complete lunch in the beautiful Salle Apolinee.


In the history of opéra, the city of Venice occupies an eminent position. In 1637, here in the doges city, the first public opéra theater was opened to paying members of the public. This was a turning point, breaking with the tradition of court performances, and the opéra house in Venice soon attracted a new audience, presenting works that blatantly alternated scènes ofhigh comedy and high tragedy, butfocusing more importantly on the "prima donna" and soon the "primo uomo". Le. the castrato. A number of theaters subsequently appeared in Venice and in the seventeenth century, the works ofHândel and Alessandro Scarlatti were public triumphs.


In 1787, "La Nobile Società", the owner of a theater that had recently been expropriated, decided to build a new hall designed to please both the eye and the ear. The élégant building, with two main entrances, one on the canal and the other on a piazza, underwent various changes over the years, particularly after the fire in 1836, but, like the Phoenix whose name it bears, it rose from the ashes.

On the night of 29 January 1996, for the second time in its history, fire devastated the theatre. The interior was completely destroyed and only the foundations survived. The theatre is totally reconstructed “the way it was, where it was” and re-open for a week of inauguration on 14 December 2003. The Return of the great La Fenice theatre is officaly in November 2004 with La Traviata, the opera by Verdi which premiered in this exact theatre.


Agreement is universal as to the future of the historié theater which is not only acclaimed as one of the most handsome in Italy, but also holds a long and brilliant record for premiering new works. From Rossini with TANCREDI in 1813 to Luigi Nono with INTOLLERANZA in 1960, ail the great Italian composers have seen their finest works presented here. Verdi premiered five of his opéras to Venetian audiences at La Fenice — ERNANI, ATTILA, RIGOLETTO, LA TRAVIATA and SIMON BOCCANEGRA, and ever since the Italian premières of RIENZI and the RING CYCLE by Wagner, La Fenice hasfeatured many international premières, including three major 20th century opéras: Stravinsky's RAKE'S PROGRESS (1951), Britten's TURN OF THE SCREW (1954) and Prokoflev's THE FIERY AN GEL (1955).

Teatro La Fenice

The seating plan is given as an indication and has no contractual value.
The division of categories may differ depending on shows and dates.


A Hand of Bridge

Bluebeard’s Castle


Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, inspired by his poet friend Béla Balázs's libretto, conceived the one-act opera, Bluebeard's Castle.

It was first performed in 1918, Budapest. Together with Liszt, Béla Bartók is often considered the greatest composer Hungary ever produced. He was the founder of ethnomusicology, the effect of which could also be noticed in the music of Bluebeard's Castle. The opera initially failed to receive the critical acclaim it deserved. However, with the staging of Bluebeard's Castle at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 1938, it experienced a revival.


The solo act of the opera depicts the story of Bluebeard's evolving relationship with his new wife Judith and a peep into his own mind. The two have eloped and are on their way to Blubeard's citadel. The opera's main characters, Bluebeard and Judith, are also the only singers on stage.

The duke, Bluebeard's fortress is an ominously tall dark building with seven locked doors. On Judith's arrival at the scene Bluebeard gives her an opportunity to leave the place in case she does not wish to continue the association with the duke. She decides to stay and also requests the locked doors to be opened. Bluebeard expresses his misgiving, stating, those are private places and should not be explored by outsiders. He also begs Judith not to ask questions. However, he relents following Judith's persistence.

The first door opens to a torture chamber, stained with blood. As a repelled Judith carries on she finds a storehouse of weapons, a treasury, a secret garden and Bluebeard's vast kingdom behind second to fifth gates. Bluebeard pleads her to stop but Judith does not pay heed to his words. The sixth door reveals a lake of tears. At this point Judith accuses Bluebeard of murdering his former wives. She presumes it is their blood that stained Bluebeard's kingdom. Then Bluebeard hands over the last key to Judith.

The seventh door reveals Bluebeard's three former wives, all bejewelled and dressed immaculately. As they emerge silently, an emotional Bluebeard starts praising each of them and at last turns to Judith. A horrified Judith begs the duke to stop, but it proved to be too late. All of Bluebeard's wives, including Judith who is similarly dressed and wearing expensive jewelleries, disappear into a beam of moonlight. The seventh door closes slowly behind them. The duke faces desolation as all is consumed by darkness.


Barbe-Bleu, baryton basse
Judith, soprano ou mezzo-soprano
Bluebeard's wives,silent

The characteristic expressionism of Béla Bartók's orchestra and the dissonance of the music heighten the intensity of this psychological drama. The minor second, an interval between two notes, has been successfully used as a reference to blood. The challenging chromaticism of both the vocal part and the haunting storyline make the stage performance of the opera a relative rarity.
Bartók prescribed the usage of large orchestra including the presence of cymbals, tamburo piccolo, celesta etc to evoke the feelings of a conflict ridden mind. The revelations of Bluebeard's subconscious world induce the audience to re-examination the dark abyss of their own souls.

Teatro La Fenice

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