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BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE

October 25th & 26th, 2024

BCO proudly presents an immersive production of Bartók's psychological drama set within the castle-like walls of Jacksonville's historic Riverside Church at Park and King

Sung in English

Approximate run time: 1 hour

Based on the French folk legend as told by Charles Perrault

"In a sense, we are all Bluebeards, in another sense we fill the role of a Judith. The story is that of everyone's life." - Peter Bartók

Tickets available August 2024

SYNOPSIS

Duke Bluebeard welcomes his new bride, Judith, into his isolated castle. Although Judith has heard the dreadful rumors regarding his previous wives (who have all disappeared mysteriously), she is excited to start her new life. Bluebeard warns her that his castle is not a happy place, and even offers her an opportunity to leave, but she still wishes to enter. Upon stepping into the grand octagonal hall, Judith notices that it is a dark, cold place with no sunlight. Pitying him,  she becomes insistent that she will brighten his forbidding castle and transform it with her love. 

 

Within the hall, Judith curiously notices seven doors that are bolted shut. Bluebeard expresses that they are to remain closed, but she is determined to see what lies behind them; she expresses to him that she believes opening these doors will bring more light into the castle. He firmly tells her that those rooms are private places not to be explored by others; he pleads with her to love him, but ask no questions.

 

Prevailing over his resistance, Judith unlocks the first door. Behind it, she is disturbed to find a bloody torture chamber. Despite the unsettled feeling that fills her, she insists that she is not frightened but intrigued. She presses on, determined to open all of the doors until sunlight fully illuminates his gloomy castle. 

She unlocks the second door to reveal an armory filled with battle weapons stained with blood. Still, she is not frightened and rejoices in the sunlight that the opening of the door brings. Bluebeard is apprehensive to allow her to open the remaining doors, but she presses on with growing boldness.

Behind the third door she finds mounds of sparkling gold and jewels. Judith is mesmerized and delighted by the sight, but quickly sobers when she notices that his best crown is stained with blood.

 

The fourth door opens to reveal a lush garden, and the newlyweds briefly rejoice in their love for each other. Suddenly, Judith notices that the roses and dirt, too, are saturated with blood. With this, Bluebeard grimly urges her to open the fifth door.

Behind the fifth door is a window that overlooks his vast and lavish kingdom. Gazing out, she numbly comments howdespite the undeniable beautythe clouds cast bloody shadows across the land. She is ready to open the two remaining doors, but Bluebeard has once again become hesitant. He begs her not to open the penultimate door.

With rekindled resolve, she unlocks the sixth door as a dark shadow passes over the castle. Behind the door is a silent lake of tears, somehow unstained with blood. Judith is saddened by the sight, and takes pity on him. He begs her to simply love him, to ask no more questions, and to let the seventh door remain shut forever.

The persistent Judith finds the courage to ask Bluebeard who he loved before her and what happened to them. She accuses him of murdering them, suggesting that their blood was the blood staining the rooms, that their tears were those that filled the lake, and that their bodies lie behind the last door. He will not answer her questions, but she is determined to know regardless. With resignation, he hands her the last key.

 

At last, the final door is opened. Dressed in the finest silks, and dripping in jewels and riches, are his three former wives not dead, but not quite alive. They emerge silently, and Bluebeard, overcome with emotions, prostrates himself before them and praises each in turn. Bluebeard then turns to Judith and begins to praise her as his fourth and final wife. Horrified, she begs him to stop, but it is too late.

He dresses her in the jewelry they wear, which she finds exceedingly heavy. Her head drooping under the weight, she is compelled by a mysterious force to follow the other wives through the seventh door. 

 

Bluebeard explains that his first wife represents Sunrise, the second Noon, and the third Twilight. Judith silently takes her place among them as Night, the fairest of them all, unable to resist their gravitational pull. His wives symbolize the seasons of his life.

The door closes behind her. Bluebeard remains, alone, as his castle gradually returns to darkness.

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