It seldom happens that people go to an opera performance mainly for the stage sets. Here is one of these rare instances, as the sets of the New Israeli Opera staging of Bela Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle are designed by no other than the famous glass artist Dale Chihuly, originally for a performance at the Seattle Opera. It’s actually part of the return of Chihuly to Israel ten years after the exhibition of his works in the Tower of David in Jerusalem which brought to the capital of Israel more than one million visitors.  The Litvak Gallery located just behind the Opera building in Tel Aviv hosts a new exhibition of his works which also opened last week.


The opera itself lasts about one hour, and in order to make the performance last a reasonable two hours is preceded by a soprano and orchestra performance the ‘Songs for Dead Children’ by Mahler. Inspired by a fairy take by Perrault the story takes us on the Gothic dark side with the young bride opening seven successive doors in the Duke castle until the last and forbidden one opens to the expected dark secret. It is probably one of the most serious and somber pieces of music written by the Hungarian composer., whose quality relies to a large extent on the two singers, as the whole opera is one continuous duet. The two singers in the Tel Aviv performance bass Vladimir Braun and soprano Svetlana Sander belong to the generation of Israeli singers who came from the former Soviet Union and are now at the pick of their artistic capabilities. Both perdormances were mature and consistent, with Sander’s passion balanced by Braun scene presence.

(video source franzhun)

I could find no picks from the performance on the Internet, so here is one fragment from a performance in London with Sir George Solti directing the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Sylvia Sass as Judith and Kolos Kováts as Bluebeard.

And the sets? Yes, they are beautiful. Next time however I would love to hear more music.