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from the director of the magic flute


A riveting pairing of one-act masterpieces, written more than two centuries apart, explores the fine line between devotion and obsession. In Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas  , a queen falls prey to the machinations of a formidable enemy, losing her heart to a man who abruptly abandons her. In Bartók’s suspenseful orchestral showpiece Bluebeard's Castle, an impulsive young bride turns her back on her family, only to uncover increasingly dark truths about her new husband.

A powerfully theatrical production by Barrie Kosky (director of LA Opera’s recent The Magic Flute) shines new light on the agonizing consequences of unconditional love.

The running time is approximately two hours and 35 minutes, including one intermission.

This production will include nudity.

Production from the Frankfurt Opera.

Production made possible by the generous support of the Tarasenka Pankiv Fund.

Support for the guest conductor provided by the Beatrix F. Padway and Nathaniel W. Finston Conductors Fund.


There are currently no upcoming performances.


Dido and Aeneas
Background: Aeneas has landed in Carthage on his long journey to Italy after the Trojan War.

Dido, widow of the King of Carthage, has fallen in love with Aeneas, moved by the tale of his flight from the ruins of Troy. She hides her feelings, however, because she had sworn never to marry again. Urged on by Belinda, Dido finally gives in to Aeneas’ desires. Aeneas promises to postpone his journey home in order to stay with Dido. The court rejoices at the royal alliance.

Dido’s enemy, a sorceress, plots with her witches against the queen. The witches want to destroy Carthage as well as Dido and Aeneas’ love. They conjure up a storm which will force Aeneas to take shelter away from Dido; they will then send a spirit to appear to him, reminding him of his duty to return to Italy. This, the witches hope, will make him give up Dido.

During a morning hunt, members of the court entertain Dido and Aeneas with songs and dances. A storm begins and the queen and her retinue hurry back to the city. Aeneas remains alone and hears the false spirit’s message: Jupiter himself commands that Aeneas is not to stay another day with Dido. Distraught, Aeneas resigns himself to the fact that he must leave Carthage in order to found a new Troy.

The Trojan sailors taking leave from their lovers; they are looking forward to setting sail. The sorceress predicts that Dido’s death is nigh, and the queen too anticipates her fate. Aeneas admits to Dido that he must leave Carthage. On seeing her desperation he decides to go against Jupiter’s command. Dido, her pride wounded, insists that Aeneas must leave her. When he goes, she dies of a broken heart.

Bluebeard’s Castle
Judith has fallen in love with Bluebeard, and she marries him, against the objections of her family. She asks for the keys to seven locked doors inside his castle. Judith wants to bring some light into the cold, damp, dark castle. Bluebeard reminds Judith about the rumors that circulate about him. His warnings don’t deter her from wanting to open all the doors in the castle. He reluctantly gives in.

The first door leads to his torture chamber.

Behind the second door, Judith finds Bluebeard’s weapons. She shows no fear, despite seeing bloodstains. She demands the other keys.

The third door reveals Bluebeard’s treasure chamber. Traces of blood on the jewels dampen Judith’s joy.

Bluebeard is now keen for Judith to open the fourth door. A flowering garden is hidden behind it. The blooms are flecked with blood.

Bluebeard then orders Judith to unlock the fifth door. There she finds a beautiful landscape. Judith notices that there is a bloodstained cloud obscuring the sun.

She wants to open the last two doors. Bluebeard fails in his attempts to restrain her. Behind the sixth door is a lake of tears. The castle gets darker.

Judith wants to know what is behind the seventh door. Bluebeard resists before yielding to Judith’s reproaches. He gives her the last key.

Behind the seventh door she finds Bluebeard’s three previous wives. He tells Judith that he found the first at daybreak, the second at noon and the third in the evening. Judith belongs to the night. The castle remains dark forever.


Two hours and 35 minutes, including one intermission.
Evening performances: 7:30-10:05pm (approximately)
Matinee performances: 2:00-4:35pm (approximately)

News & Reviews


  • Dido & Aeneas/Bluebeard's Castle

    LA Opera: October 14, 2014

    In this edition of the LA Opera Behind the Curtain podcast, host Brian Lauritzen is joined by conductor Stephen Sloane who is leading performances of the double bill of Purcell's Dido & Aeneas and Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle. Tension and release in the dramas of Purcell and Bartok, plus the role of the conductor in what Sloane calls a "truly multimedia artform," are among the topics discussed in this engaging and entertaining conversation with Sloane, a native of Los Angeles now residing in Berlin.
Pre-performance lectures are generously sponsored by the Flora L. Thornton Foundation and the Opera League of Los Angeles.


Pre-Performance Talks

Get the full story by joining other opera-goers at our complimentary pre-opera talks in the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. One hour before each performance begins, Duff Murphy of Classical KUSC will introduce audiences to the unusual pairing of Dido and Aeneas and Bluebeard's Castle. These talks are free of charge to all ticketholders, and no reservations are required.