Professor Anne Bogart Directs 'Bluebeard's Castle/Four Songs' at Boston Lyric Opera

Anastasia Ellis
March 15, 2023

Professor Anne Bogart will direct Boston Lyric Opera’s production of Bluebeard’s Castle/Four Songs. The brand new production, which will be presented March 22–26, 2023 at The Terminal at Flynn Cruiseport Boston, blends Bela Bartók’s 1918 opera, Bluebeard’s Castle, with Alma Maria Schindler-Mahler’s Four Songs (Vier Lieder) from 1915. The experience, which is a site-specific production, will immerse audiences in a multi-room installation that includes a pre-show musical salon.

Bluebeard’s Castle, based on the French folk legend as told by Charles Perrault, follows the story of Duke Bluebeard as he brings his new wife, Judith—with whom he eloped quite hastily—to visit his ominous home fortress for the first time. Judith explores the castle against Bluebeard’s wishes, demanding that the doors be opened to let in light. She exposes first a torture chamber, then a weapons room; after that, she unveils a room full of riches and a secret garden, but all the riches and beauty she uncovers are stained with blood. Judith begins to question what became of Bluebeard’s three former wives, fearing that they were murdered and that she might face the same bloody fate. Throughout the folktale’s history, the reality of the atrocities in Duke Bluebeard’s home has been debated, with some arguing that the horrors are meant to be figurative. Despite such debate, one thing remains clear: Bluebeard’s Castle adventures into the depths of an intense psychological and emotional relationship.  

Schindler-Mahler’s Four Songs, an addition made to the opera by Bogart, is added to deepen Judith’s character and offer her agency as she exposes what appear to be the terrifying habits of her new husband. Bogart said that she “realized Bartók’s music is extraordinary, dark, and labyrinthine…but it clearly needed a companion piece— written by a woman. [In Bluebeard’s Castle] we are dealing with the stark differences between the male and female experiences inherent in Bartók’s work.” 

Anne Bogart was the Co-Artistic Director of SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is the recipient of four Honorary Doctorates from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Skidmore College, Bard College, and Cornish College. She was a recipient of a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, the Richard B. Fisher Award, a USA Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and received the 2016 Alfred Drake Award from Brooklyn College. SITI company completed its finale 30th season in December 2022 with Radio Christmas Carol. Other productions include: Falling & Loving, The Bacchae, Chess Match, The Theater is a Blank Page, Steel Hammer, Persians, A Rite, Café Variations, Trojan Women, American Document, Antigone, Freshwater, Under Construction, Who Do You Think You Are, Radio Macbeth, Hotel Cassiopeia, Death and the Ploughman, bobrauschenbergamerica, Room, War of the Worlds, Cabin Pressure, The Radio Play, Small Lives/Big Dreams, Private Lives, Miss Julie, and Orestes. Operas include Tristan and Isolde, The Handmaid’s Tale (which was also presented as a site-specific production with Boston Lyric Opera), Alcina, Macbeth, Norma, Carmen, I Capuleti e iMontecchi, Nicholas and Alexandra, Marina: A Captive Spirit, Lilith and Seven Deadly Sins. Bogart is the author of six books: A Director Prepares, The Viewpoints Book, And Then, You Act, Conversations with Anne, What’s the Story? and most recently, The Art of Resonance.