Opera Omaha’s ‘Bluebeard’s Castle’ Opens This Weekend


April 18th, 2013

Omaha, NE — This weekend Opera Omaha opens doors, some better left closed.

Opera Omaha’s final production this season brings together a pair of familiar faces: conductor Hal France and Bass-baritone Samuel Ramey. Ramey, who grew up in Kansas is not a stranger to Omaha audiences.

opera omaha bluebeard 041713 image“This is my third time to perform in Omaha. The first time was sort of the very beginning of my career, I came and sang in a production of “Lucia di Lammermoor” with the late, great Beverly Sills. I know it was the first production done in the Orpheum Theater.”

Ramey will sing the title role in “Bluebeard’s Castle” by Bela Bartok. Ramey says this role is one he discovered in a record store.

“So I bought this record and started listening to it and I thought, ‘Wow, this is fantastic, I hope someday I get to do it.’”

For an opera, “Bluebeard’s Castle” is rather short, with just one act and only two on-stage singing roles. Conductor Hal France says the orchestra itself plays a major role.

“Absolutely one of the greatest orchestral pieces, and if you look at all the performances in the world, more are probably done by symphony orchestras than by opera companies.”

Bringing in a full-size orchestra was an issue. Considering the role of the orchestra, the directors used a rather innovative approach to solve this problem

“Immediately knew that we needed the orchestra in order to make the pieces work. So they went about designing this piece to put the orchestra in the castle because the size of orchestra we need does not fit in the orchestra pit in the Orpheum.”

The plot is straightforward: Bluebeard brings his new wife, Judith, to his home, a remote castle. Their marital bliss gives way to Judith’s curiosity about Bluebeard’s secrets.

“It’s conflict between two people who both want something that might include the other person, but they want it in a different way. How they go about negotiating this is the opera.”

“He’s clearly made a commitment to her, brought her to his castle. She is committed and wants to be a part of this place, which she’s never visited. It’s her first time in the castle. As she sees it, she becomes more and more curious and she doesn’t waste any time getting down to the questions and wanting to know what’s behind the doors, and the secrets.”

While I won’t give away what’s behind the doors, I can tell you that performances are this Friday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Both performances are in the Orpheum Theater in Omaha, and more information is available at operaomaha.org.

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