One of the Met’s most eagerly awaited events won’t happen at Lincoln Center: on June 14 at Carnegie Hall, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is scheduled to lead the MET Orchestra in Bluebeard’s Castle with Elina Garanca (fingers crossed) and Christian van Horn. In anticipation, Chris’s Cache offers four iterations of Bartók’s one-act masterpiece with Evelyn Lear & Thomas Stewart; Tatiana Troyanos & Siegmund Nimsgern (NOT conducted by Pierre Boulez); Agnes Baltsa & Samuel Ramey; and Nina Stemme & Gerald Finley.

Since it’s such an orchestral tour-de-force, Bluebeard is done more often in the concert hall than in the opera house. Its one-hour length means it must be paired with another short work when staged. The Met has performed it with Gianni Schicchi, Erwartung or, most recently, Iolanta. Other recent productions have used La Voix Humaine or Il Tabarro, while some have performed it with other Bartók works like The Miraculous Mandarin and The Wooden Prince.

Lear/Stewart join Christa Ludwig/Walter Berry and Julia Varady/Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as married couples who have ventured Judith and Bluebeard together. Are there others? Might there be a Nicole Car/Etienne Dupuis Bluebeard in the future?

Today’s live Troyanos/Nimsgern pairing (one familiar from the Boulez recording) comes from a New York Philharmonic concert under Rafael Kubelik.

A notable film adaptation, recently restored, by Michael Powell will be shown during the Museum of Modern Art’s upcoming Powell/Pressberger retrospective.

It also plays an important role in the recent Argentinian film Kékszakállu by Gastón Solnicki.

Catherine Breillat’s provocative non-Bartók take on Bluebeard will surely turn up when Film at Lincoln Center hosts a Breillat retrospective in July.

Bartók: A Kékszakállu Herceg Vára

(in English)
Judith: Evelyn Lear
Bluebeard: Thomas Stewart

Chicago Symphony
Conductor: Jean Martinon
27 April`1967

Judith: Tatiana Troyanos
Bluebeard: Siegmund Nimsgern

New York Philharmonic
Conductor: Rafael Kubelik
Avery Fisher Hall
27 March 1981

Judith: Agnes Baltsa
Bluebeard: Samuel Ramey

Vienna Philharmonic
Conductor: Bernard Haitink

Salzburg Festival
15 August 1993

Judith: Nina Stemme
Bluebeard: Gerald Finley
Speaker: Judith Chemla (in French)

Orchestre de Paris
Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
Philharmonie de Paris
8 December 2021

Each Bluebeard can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

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