Alexandra Coghlan

Music matters | 1 June 2017

Plus: a Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at the Royal Festival Hall that, against all reason, still leaves you hoping

The ancient Greeks had a word for it —katabasis, descending into the depths, to the underworld itself, in search of answers. To cross the threshold between life and death, innocence and knowledge, the everyday and what lies beyond, is an act woven through art, resurfacing in each generation. For Orpheus, and for Monteverdi, the journey may be a literal one, but for Bartok’s Bluebeard, imagined in the age of Freud and Jung, hell is not found outside, or even in other people, but within the darkest recesses of our own selves.

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