Bartók: Miraculous Mandarin, La Monnaie / De Munt, Brussels, 2018 (detail) View full image


Opens at La Monnaie de Munt

Bartok shines under the direction of Christophe Coppens..... A magnificent, effective, inebriating, imaginative and original representation...

Miraculous? Rarely was that word so well in place

Cutting Edge

Christophe Coppens’ Béla Bartók double bill opened at La Monnaie de Munt, Brussels on 8th June. Two visual spectacles exploring the caverns of the human soul and its phantasms.

In the opera, Bluebeard allows his new wife to enter his castle. She is determined to fathom her husband’s past and expose the hidden crannies of his mind. Eventually she discovers Bluebeard’s three previous wives, asleep, and she joins them in the darkness.   

The setting, the continuous questions and curiosity of Judith (Nora Gubisch) and the mysterious and surly attitude of Bluebeard (Ante Jerkunica) metaphorically reveal the facets of the human soul. It is the eternal dilemma and desire of the encounter, of knowing oneself deeply. The music direction of Alain Altinoglu and the direction of Christophe Coppens have read and transformed it into something magical, mysterious, disquieting, fascinating, colourful and dark.

Each member of the artistic team has grasped the parabolic sense of Bartók's unique opera, and is busy extracting it from the fairytale status where it has long been confined, to give it back one after the other. all other aspects of its richness: symbolic, psychoanalytical, philosophical, ...

The Miraculous Mandarin tells of a prostitute and her client, a vulnerable mandarin. Though her pimps try to murder him, he only wants her embrace. Staged after the interval the pantomime ballet reveals the same qualities of creativity and understanding. It's a feast for the senses, and Coppens seems to take the same pleasure in directing dancers as singers.