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NZSO and New Zealand Opera to perform electrifying Bluebeard’s Castle

News: 14 November 2022

NZSO media release.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand Opera are partnering to perform a critically acclaimed new interpretation of Béla Bartók’s operatic masterpiece Bluebeard’s Castle in Wellington and Christchurch next year.

This production of the Hungarian composer’s only opera is a hit reimagining that premiered in London last year to universal praise. The newly formed company Theatre of Sound set Bluebeard’s Castle, first staged in 1918, in the present day and focussed on a married couple facing the devastating reality of dementia.

In place of the infamous seven locked doors in traditional productions, the reimagined Bluebeard’s Castle features a single trunk containing relics of the couple’s past. The Guardian praised the new interpretation of Bluebeard’s Castle as “a devastating piece of theatre” with singing and acting of “astonishing emotional nakedness and detailed veracity”.

The new version of the opera Bluebeard’s Castle was a hit in London last year, image courtesy of the NZSO.

The Evening Standard declared it an “atmospheric production … in its exploration of issues of memory and identity, the concept is a powerful one”.

The two performers for Bluebeard’s Castle and the conductor for the NZSO will be announced soon.

NZSO Chief Executive Peter Biggs says Bluebeard’s Castle is one of the most significant and exciting collaborations it has undertaken with New Zealand Opera.

“It is a sensational reimagining of one of the greatest operas of the 20th century. To partner with the world-class New Zealand Opera and bring this production to both Wellington and Christchurch will be a highlight of the NZSO’s 2023 Season.”

New Zealand Opera General Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess says: “This partnership opportunity presents NZ Opera with an opportunity to work closely with another national organisation to build audiences for the benefit of opera and classical music. Together we present a powerful performance that otherwise would be beyond the resources of NZ Opera to deliver.”

Bartók, one of the giants of 20th century music, is known for Bluebeard’s Castle and a string of major works for orchestra, string quartets, piano, cantata and setting folk songs for voice and piano. His music has featured in several films, including The Shining and Ready Player One and has influenced film composers, including The Lord of the Rings’ Howard Shore and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

Tickets to Bluebeard’s Castle are now on sale to NZSO Members at and for New Zealand Opera Subscribers at

Bluebeard’s Castle

BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle

TE WHANGANUI-A-TARA WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre |Thursday 10 August 2023 | 7.30pm

ŌTAUTAHI CHRISTCHURCH | Town Hall |Saturday 12 August 2023 | 7.30pm

Updated on 24th November 2022