John Adams, BARTOK, Bela: Bluebeard’s Castle

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The first woman conductor of a major American orchestra (Baltimore) takes on Bartók's only opera. What could be better? Marin Alsop here leads the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in its take on Bartók's frightening, sensual and fascinating work. Alsop's bread-and-butter is modern composition, so it's no surprise that the BSO has little problem with Bartók's sinister score. As the story goes, Judith, Bluebeard's wife, encounters seven doors in his darkened castle. In order to bring more light into the palace, she opens one after another despite Bluebeard's protestations. Each provides more light, but showcases the secrets that Bluebeard never wanted her to encounter — torture chambers, gardens stained with blood, lakes made of tears. It's a credit to both Alsop and the BSO that as Judith finds her way through the seventh door, the orchestra will have you wishing that there were many more.