The timing couldn’t be better. Just as the gates clang shut on another national lockdown, trapping us all indefinitely with our nearest and dearest, the London Symphony Orchestra serves up an opera that’s pure domestic horror — a story about what happens when we lock all the doors, close the curtains tightly, and turn and look our beloved square in the eye.
Bluebeard’s Castle, Bartok’s only opera, is a single-breath sort of piece. Barely an hour long, just two singers on stage throughout, it’s a conversation that starts with love and ends with — well, it’s not quite clear. Torture? Murder? Imprisonment? Bigamy? Truth, certainly. Most of us don’t have our ex-wives stashed secretly in the basement, but who doesn’t have a door they’d rather not open, a secret we’d rather not share?
The LSO’s second home, St Luke’s, Old Street — a Hawksmoor Church by way of Jack Bauer’s CTU, all metal gantries, spiral staircases and 18th-century brickwork — gives good Gothic.