Last Updated on November 7, 2021
Theatre of Sound radically retells Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle
Theatre of Sound is a new opera company that aims to place audiences at the heart of unique and immersive 360 opera experiences. It launched on November 4th with a brand new and intimate production of Bluebeard’s Castle by Béla Bartók presented in partnership with arts organisation and performance venue Stone Nest.
A new partnership between long-time collaborators Daisy Evans and Stephen Higgins who have a shared passion and vision for presenting opera in new and exciting ways reimagined Bluebeard’s Castle, usually presented as a Gothic horror story centred around an abusive relationship, as a love story between a long-married couple coming to terms with living with dementia.
Stone Nest, based in a stunning former Welsh chapel in the heart of London’s West End, is hosting performances from 4-14 November. Sung in English in a newly-commissioned translation, the production features a stellar cast of singers with soprano Susan Bullock, bass-baritone Gerald Finley, baritone Michael Mayes and soprano Gweneth Ann Rand sharing the principal roles of Duke Bluebeard and Judith under the dynamic direction of Evans, Higgins and their creative team. In a new chamber orchestration, players from the virtuosic London Sinfonietta accompany the fourteen performances conducted by Higgins.
This intimate version of the opera for chamber orchestra takes the audience on a unique theatrical experience placing them at the heart of the action, affording a rare opportunity to hear these internationally renowned singers up close and personal. Even though the storyline has changed to portray an old couple dealing with dementia, with locked doors being replaced by a locked chest full of memories, the music and lyrics of the opera were still beautifully sung to the original score. It is quite unclear if the words are metaphors for the old couple’s condition, or if the sense being illogical at times depicts what it is like to have dementia to the audience.
Gerald Finley and Susan Bullock both delivered really strong performances full of emotion, vulnerability. More importantly, there was a real sense of relatability with the audience. The set was furnished to seem like a quaint little home, with an armchair and various lamps dotted around to provide extra immersive lighting. The action was literally happening right in front of your eyes, and for a full hour, it seemed like you were staring from a window into someone else’s home and getting a glimpse of their lives.
Marking the start of an extended partnership that will explore opera as a powerful pathway for connection with each other and the world around us, Theatre of Sound will join forces with Live Music Now to facilitate a creative participation programme, Judith’s Castle. Created in collaboration with families living with dementia through a partnership with Rare Dementia Support, with dynamic young composer Electra Perivolaris, new work will be premiered on the set of the opera production at Stone Nest, featuring musicians from Live Music Now and the London Sinfonietta.
Tickets are still on sale from £35. Concessions are available including an offer of 10 tickets per show at £20 for under 25s.
Theatre of Sound
136 Shaftesbury Ave,
London W1D 5EZ
4th to 14th November 2021