Label: Channel Classics
Format: SACD / CD Hybrid
Béla Balázs, Libretto; Laszló Polgár, Bluebeard; Ildikó Komlósi, Judith; Iván Fischer with Budapest Festival Orchestra
Fischer: Despite occasional successful stagings of this opera, it is concert performances that stir up the feelings of audiences most.
I have witnessed many times in performances of this psycho-drama that listeners, staring at the faces of the two singers for sixty minutes, or following a surtitled or printed libretto translation during Bartók's deeply emotional music, were confronted with themselves. The prologue is very important; this is in fact a story about us. Usually, after the opera has ended, discussions break out, dividing men and women. Whereas everybody seems to understand why Judith cannot resist her desire to open all the doors, Bluebeard's character remains controversial. Is it right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary to keep certain doors closed? Why does he need to lock Judith up after she has discovered his secrets? Is the blood real, or does it exist only in Judith's fearful imagination?
This Bluebeard is not a killer, even if he has a bad reputation and Judith sees blood everywhere. All the earlier wives are alive in his heart, behind closed doors. Bartók, who was himself a closed, shy man, seems to have been fascinated by strange-looking characters who turn out to feel endless love. This links Bluebeard to the Miraculous Mandarin.