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For the very first time, Bluebeard’s Castle and the Romanian Athenaeum come to life

The only opera composed by Bela Bartók in a multimedia approach by director Nona Ciobanu

Today, on 4 September, at the Romanian Athenaeum, during the George Enescu International Festival, the most mysterious rooms of Bluebeard’s Castle will acquire a symbolic materialisation through sound and image, in the concert of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Cristian Mandeal, in the multimedia directing vision of Nona Ciobanu.

“Bluebeard’s Castle” is the only opera composed by Bela Bartók. Based on Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, but transformed by the imagination of librettist Bela Balázs into an entirely different story, will be accompanied by multimedia projections. They were created by director Nona Ciobanu and were made together with Peter Košir, architect and visual artist – designed and assembled in a surprising, immersive discourse.

In short, the libretto speaks of Bluebeard, the prince with a dark reputation who remarries and brings his new wife, Judith, to his castle with seven rooms. He allows Judith to enter every room except one. Eventually, Judith ignores the interdiction and isn’t persuaded by the numerous supplications of the prince to respect it. Beyond the seventh door, she finds overwhelming darkness.

Over the years, the story has been explored mainly from its symbolic perspective. According to some interpretations, the seven rooms signify Bluebeard’s soul, and the story is about self-knowledge, soul-searching, the access we allow ourselves and others into our personal space.

Director Nona Ciobanu proposes a visual convention that helps fathom some of the libretto’s metaphors and imagines a hopscotch which, like Ariadne’s thread, will lead the spectator through the secrets of the text and the music.

“The video projections are an extension of Bartók’s music and the poetry in Balázs’s text. Together with Peter Košir, who is an architect and a visual artist, I have tried to define this space that glides from the outside to the inside of the characters, and the other way round, through images that compose the microcosm and macrocosm of the hopscotch sometimes in an abstract manner, sometimes concretely”, says director Nona Ciobanu.

According to the director’s vision, the inside-outside play proposed by Bartók’s work will include spectators and even the entire concert hall, aiming to suggest viewers and listeners their actual, direct participation in this journey of discovery.

“I have taken elements from the architecture of the Romanian Athenaeum and transferred and transformed them into the visual script, so that they sometimes become living and part of the story. This continuous metamorphosis engages from the very beginning of the performance two defining elements of theatre: the stage and the curtain, which appear explicitly or transfigured in a few key moments of the show”, reveals Nona Ciobanu.


The show is scheduled for Wednesday, 4 September, at the Romanian Athenaeum, starting 5.00 PM.





NONA CIOBANU, PETER KOŠIR multimedia directors

Prokofiev Piano concerto no. 3 in C major op. 26

DANIEL CIOBANU piano, laureate of the “Arthur Rubinstein” Piano Competition in 2017

Bela Bartók “Bluebeard Castle”

ALLISON COOK mezzo-soprano



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About “George Enescu” International Festival

Having reached its 24th edition, George Enescu International Festival will take place between 31 August and 22 September 2019. In the Bucharest concert halls we will see over 2,500 of the most valuable musicians of the world, coming from 50 countries, and 84 concerts and recitals will be presented. This year’s edition of the festival has a total number of 34 figures coming to Romania for the first time: 25 artists, including Marion Cotillard, Kirill Petrenko, Mitsuko Uchida, and nine world-class orchestras.

The 2019 edition of George Enescu International Festival awaits its audience in the Palace Hall, at the Romanian Athenaeum, the Radio Hall and the Small Palace Hall, to concerts and recitals grouped under six sections: “Great Orchestras of the World”, “By Midnight Concerts”, “Recitals and Chamber Music”, “21st Century Music”, “Mozart Week in Residence” and “International Composers’ Forum”. Concerts and events will also be organised in the Festival Square, along with conferences, record releases and book launches, and extraordinary shows.

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Translation provided by Biroul de Traduceri Champollion