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Ariane et Barbe-Bleue

Ariane et Barbe-Bleue

Ariane et Barbe-Bleue  Gran Teatre del Liceu  18-06-2011
Paul Abraham Dukas
Gran Teatre del Liceu
The tradition of Barbe Blue that inspired the composer Paul Abraham Dukas to write the Opera Ariane et Barbe-Bleue finds its source in a real existing person, the Baron of Retz, from Brittany, who, during medieval times, murdered many young boys and his seven wives. Perreault got inspired by his story to write the fairytale, obviously softening it a little with a happy ending. This story inspired also the operetta, and here is the delicious Barbe-Bleu by Jacques Offenbach, where the story tends to become almost comical. The wives are odalisques, imprisoned in a harem and spending time mocking the husband, with jests and play on words. In cinema, among many, there's also Bluebeard with Richard Burton and a long list of beautiful women like Raquel Welch, Virna Lisi, Nathalie, Delon, Marilù Tolo, Agostina Belli and Karin Shubert.

Synopsis Ariane et Barbe-Bleue

A group of peasants is waiting for Barbe-bleue's arrival, outside his castle. The beautiful Ariane, his sixth wife, is brought to his castle but the peasants fear Barbe-bleue is meant to have the same destiny of the previous five wives, who have disappeared, dead or hidden in the castle. Ariane arrives with her nurse. Barbe-bleue gives her the keys to his treasure chambers saying she can use all the silver ones but not the only gold one. The nurse turns the lock in the first door and a cascade of jewels and other treasures spills out. The same happens when she opens the other five doors: amethysts, sapphires, pearls, emeralds, rubies and diamonds fall out. Ariane is impressed only by the diamonds because she likes their light. The sixth door open has shown a dark passage which brings to another door. To open it, the gold key is necessary. Ariane is determined to find out what happened to the five wives, so she opens the door. She hears women's voices singing in the distance; she's about to follow the singing when Barbe-bleue arrives. He harshly tells her off and is about to drag her down to the basements of the castle but Ariane's screams attracts the peasants who break in to defend her. Ariane calmly refuses the peasants' help saying the husband has not harmed her and sends them away.

Ariane and the nurse are in the basements of the castle. They have found Barbe-bleue's previous wives. The girls are hiding in the darkness, dressed in rags and terrified, but alive. Having Barbe-bleue left the castle, Ariane decides to free the five women, Igrana, Selisetta, Melisanda, Berengaria e Alladina. Ariane throws a stone to a window breaking the glass and letting the light come in. The prisoners are finally outside the castle.

The wives and Ariane find themselves back in the hall of the castle: the peasants are hiding and ready to defend them but Barbe-bleue is nowhere to be seen. The wives have decorated themselves with the jewels from the six doors. The nurse enters and tells them Barbe-bleue is on his way. They look through the windows only to see Barbe-bleue's carriage ambushed by rebel peasants. Barbe-bleue's bodyguard is cut down and he is badly beaten and they enter the castle with Barbe-bleue roped up. The peasants are dismissed leaving Barbe-bleue in the wives' hands. But the wives can't hurt him, although he is hurt and tied up, he still dominates them with his look. Ariane unties Barbe-bleue while the other women wash his wounds. Ariane encourages the women to follow her outside the castle into freedom but they don't have the strength nor the courage to part from him. Ariane leaves the castle followed by the nurse and the door of the castle closes behind them.

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