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Arts & Culture

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: Iolanta/Bluebeard's Castle

Nadja Michael as Judith and Mikhail Petrenko as Bluebeard in Bartók's “Bluebeard's Castle.”
Courtesy of Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Nadja Michael as Judith and Mikhail Petrenko as Bluebeard in Bartók's “Bluebeard's Castle.”

Airs Sunday, July 26, 2015 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV

Acclaimed Polish film director Mariusz Treliński makes his highly anticipated Met debut with the Metropolitan Opera’s new production, inspired by classic noir films of the 1940s, bringing together two rarely performed one-acts: Tchaikovsky's lyrical fairy tale “Iolanta,” about the psychological awakening of a blind princess, and Bartók's harrowing “Bluebeard's Castle,” in which newlywed Judith must open seven locked doors to discover the full depths of her husband's dark secrets.

Anna Netrebko in the title role of Tchaikovsky's “Iolanta.”
Courtesy of Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Anna Netrebko in the title role of Tchaikovsky's “Iolanta.”
A scene from Tchaikovsky's “Iolanta.”
Courtesy of Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
A scene from Tchaikovsky's “Iolanta.”
Piotr Beczala as Vaudémont in Tchaikovsky's “Iolanta.”
Courtesy of Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Piotr Beczala as Vaudémont in Tchaikovsky's “Iolanta.”
Nadja Michael as Judith and Mikhail Petrenko as Bluebeard in Bartók's “Bluebeard's Castle.”
Courtesy of Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Nadja Michael as Judith and Mikhail Petrenko as Bluebeard in Bartók's “Bluebeard's Castle.”

Valery Gergiev conducts the double bill, which is a co-production with Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera. Anna Netrebko stars as the title character in “Iolanta,” with Piotr Beczala and Aleksei Markov as Vaudémont and Robert, two rivals for her love. Nadja Michael sings the central role of Judith in “Bluebeard's Castle,” with Mikhail Petrenko as her mysterious and menacing new husband. “Iolanta/Bluebeard’s Castle” will be broadcast on THIRTEEN’S GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET in July 2015 on PBS.

In reviewing the production, The New York Times noted, "There were overwhelming passages in Mr. Gergiev's account of this astonishing Bartok score, with its Expressionist angst and Debussy-like lushness. He brought out rustic, folkloric elements in the music that seemed fresh."

And Bloomberg found the double-bill to be "thrillingly staged by Mariusz Treliński… Both operas make poetic use of video in a way I've rarely seen on the opera stage. And both had superlative casts. Netrebko's blooming soprano and dignity—even in a billowy white nightgown—humanized the princess. Piotr Beczala's tenor gleamed as Vaudémont, who lights up her life."

Bass baritone Eric Owens hosts the broadcast. GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

Corporate support for GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Major funding for the Met Opera presentation is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This GREAT PERFORMANCES presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.

For the Met, Gary Halvorson directs the telecast. Jay David Sacks is music producer. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are supervising producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are producers. Peter Gelb is executive producer. For GREAT PERFORMANCES, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

Past episodes of GREAT PERFORMANCES are available for online viewing. GREAT PERFORMANCES is on Facebook, and you can follow @GPerfPBS on Twitter. The Metropolitan Opera is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @MetOpera on Twitter.