Stage Door News
Toronto: The Canadian Opera Company presents “Bluebeard’s Castle” directed by Atom Egoyan online
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Join us this weekend for a boundary-breaking new production from acclaimed director Atom Egoyan.
In this hybrid work, Atom Egoyan melds his award-winning film Felicia’s Journey with Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s one-act opera Bluebeard’s Castle. Egoyan’s 1999 film starring Bob Hoskins is about a serial killer who preys on women in Birmingham, England, while Bartók’s 1918 opera tells the grisly fairy tale of Bluebeard, whose new bride Judith begins to suspect that the doors of her husband’s castle conceal gruesome secrets.
A Note from Atom Egoyan
“I’m excited to be working with the COC again during this Season Like No Other—it’s a fitting name, because with this production we’re melding stage and screen to create something unlike anything that’s been done at the COC so far.
This opera is a relatively simple story: Bluebeard invites Judith into his castle, where she finds seven doors. Behind the doors are increasingly ghastly discoveries; she has already left her family to join Bluebeard in a world of darkness, only to find this world is even darker than she’d imagined. I wanted to reinterpret this story—a very problematic story with an archetype of toxic masculinity at its heart—to give it a new spin, while still highlighting its incredible score.
A film I made in 1999, Felicia’s Journey, is heavily inspired by Bluebeard’s Castle. Creating this version of Bluebeard’s Castle, as a digital project intended for streaming, I returned to the film. The result blends stage and screen, opera and film, wherein the film becomes something of a plot device in the opera. We’ve added a prologue to set the scene for the opera: the prologue, which plays without sung words from the opera, offers an entrance into the world and psychology of the characters. You’ll see parts of my film Felicia’s Journey projected above the stage, while hearing actual musical motifs from Bartok’s score that serve as our first introduction to the opera’s two characters.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this opera or the film, the prologue in this presentation sets up the complex narrative world where Bluebeard is preparing for a very strange “date” with Judith. As the opera unfolds, we see an interweaving of props from the film incorporated into the action on-stage. This raises the intriguing question of how our Bluebeard has access to these props… and what his connection to the film might be. Is this a complex game that our Bluebeard is playing with Judith? Have they met before? What makes things different this particular night?
I hope you enjoy our spin on Bluebeard’s Castle. The exclusive stream also features a conversation between myself and COC Music Director, Johannes Debus, where we talk more about how we blended music and film for this project, and the score of this incredible opera.”
Cast and Creative Team
Bluebeard: KYLE KETELSEN
Judith: KRISZTINA SZABÓ
Conductor: JOHANNES DEBUS
Director and Stage Designer: ATOM EGOYAN
Lighting Designer: MICHAEL WALTON
Projection Designer: CAMERON DAVIS
Director of Photography and Editor: TAYLOR LONG
Stage Manager: JENIFER KOWAL
Subtitles Producer: JOHN SHARPE
With the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra
Photo: Krisztina Szabó and Kytle Ketelsen. © 2022 Taylor Long.