The Budapest Festival Orchestra presents Bartók’s dark and disquieting opera, steeped in Hungarian folk tradition. The combination of this ‘ultra-charismatic’ orchestra and music director Iván Fischer has been described by The Guardian as ‘intoxicating’.
Bartók had a lifetime devotion to folk music and hoped that his Hungarian Peasant Songs, based on authentic Hungarian melodies and orchestrated in 1933, would open up these pretty folk melodies to a wider audience.
Written in Budapest, Bartók’s single opera is a bloodthirsty fairytale with strong psychological and erotic undertones. Featuring just two characters, it’s arresting performed in concert.
Bluebeard brings his new wife Judith home to his castle. She asks him to let light into the gloomy hall by opening its seven doors and discovers a series of troubling mysteries, including a torture chamber and Bluebeard’s treasure horde, dripping with gore. But what will happen when she opens the seventh door?
‘A real treat. Fischer conducted it with infectious joy.’
(The Guardian on Budapest Festival Orchestra’s The Magic Flute in 2016)
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Iván Fischer conductor
Márta Sebestyén folk singer
Ildikó Komlósi mezzo-soprano, Judith
Krisztián Cser bass, Bluebeard
Bartók: Hungarian Peasant Songs, Sz.100 for orchestra
-: interspersed with unaccompanied traditional songs
Bartók: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle – opera in 1 act
-: (concert performance in Hungarian with English surtitles)
Royal Festival Hall
See further details in our Event Calendar
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The theme of XXIV Viljandi Folk Music Festival is WOMEN’S VOICE
The theme of this year’s Viljandi Folk Music Festival is devoted to one of the most beautiful and expressive natural sound in the world – the woman’s voice. We concentrate on how women express themselves through singing and instrument playing both in Estonia and abroad, today and in the past. How does the work of contemporary Estonian female singers influence us? What kind of messages are communicated through female voices? How do the voices of faraway guests speak to us – for example, the women who carry out water rituals on Vanuatu island or the Mauritian female singing which the locals believe to have medicinal properties? The famous Georgian men’s singing has been capturing the hearts of festivalgoers for decades, now it’s time for the Georgian women to show what they are made of.
But why women, one might ask. Does that not hint at inequality and discrimination? Older Estonian folk songs have always been strongly influenced by the gender binary. You can usually identify whether the songs were sung by women or men based on the themes and motifs. These themes are still relevant today because these songs were sung straight from the hearts of our ancestors and we are able to listen to them today thanks to archival records and notes. This year, we are concentrating on what out female ancestors used to sing.
In this country, women were not always allowed on stage. At the first Estonian song festival in 1869, only male choirs were allowed on stage and women had to stay home during the busy haymaking season. Nowadays, the stages are shared equally between both sexes and this is how it is supposed to be. Back when women’s word was not worth much, they expressed themselves through their voice because the word of the singer was a law unto oneself – women were free to say whatever they wanted in song. Thus, women claimed their voice in the society through their singing. The powerful female voices of runo songstresses Anneli Vabarna, Liisa Kümmel and several others have deservedly made their way from the hidden confines of history onto grand stages, gleaming back to the audiences from the disco balls or hovering through time as part of new arrangements.
One of the meanings of women’s voice is the right to vote. It is worth mentioning that in Estonia, women got the right to vote exactly 99 years ago in 1917. Despite that, women’s right to vote is still limited or non-existent in several countries. The right to vote and women’s singing voice are both empowered by the courage and need to express oneself and use and develop one’s skills.