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King Bobèche is desperately searching for his daughter Hermia, whom he abandoned as a child. Bluebeard is also in need of a woman: already tired of wife number five, he sends his alchemist henchman Popolani to search for a worthy successor, something which Popolani seems to achieve in the person of the tough and feisty Boulotte.
Stefan Herheim, the Norwegian wizard of the theatre, presents Offenbach’s famous opéra bouffe as an amusing interplay of love and death, horror and comedy, artistic dream and waking reality, masculine mania and feminine lust.
The Barbe-bleue (Bluebeard) of this fairytale can be etymologically traced to the old French word Barbeu (werewolf), who might in turn reveal himself as a sheep in wolf’s clothing. The success of Bluebeard in decadent Paris during the dawning of the second imperial era is rooted in precisely this interplay between horror and comedy – one laughs at one’s own inadequacy as if one had already internalised Karl Kraus’ dictum: »Love and art do not embrace what is beautiful but what is made beautiful by this embrace.«
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Textual adaptation and musical arrangement by Stefan Herheim, Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach and Clemens Flick