In Bluebeard's castle, cruel secrets hide behind locked doors. Jennifer Johnston and Gerald Finley are soloists in Béla Bartók's opera. Klaus Mäkelä also conducts Franz Schubert's Der Tod und das Mädchen in Gustav Mahler's orchestral version.
In the song, Der Tod und das Mädchen - in English, "Death and the Girl" - a little girl sees a strange, shadowy figure and asks it to leave her alone. Death replies that he comes as a friend and that she will soon sleep in his arms. Schubert wrote the song to a text by Matthias Claudius in 1817 and took it up again when he became seriously ill in the winter of 1824. The piano part from the song became the basis for the second movement of String Quartet No. 14, one of Schubert's most famous works. Gustav Mahler orchestrated the string quartet in 1894.
In Béla Bartók's opera Bluebeard's Castle, it is the young woman Judith who sees death in the eye. She pressures her husband, Bluebeard, to open the locked doors of her mysterious castle. The first hides a torture chamber and the next a treasure chest. A third hides a lake of tears. Behind the seventh and last, the ghosts of Bluebeard's former wives await - all killed by Bluebeard. The opera is based on a French folk tale and contains some of Bartók's most beautiful and eerie music.
What is played
- Franz Schubert/Gustav Mahler
- Béla Bartók