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Bluebeard, Pina Bausch’s early masterpiece receives UK premiere at Sadler's Wells

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

STAGED for the first time in over 29 years and receiving its UK premiere is Pina Bausch’s early monumental masterpiece Bluebeard. While Listening to a Tape Recording of Béla Bartók’s Opera, “Duke Bluebeard’s Castle” from Sadler’s Wells International Associate Company Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.

Following eight performances at Opera House Wuppertal in January/February 2020, the acclaimed production comes to Sadler’s Wells from Wednesday, February 12 to Saturday, February 15.

The work first premiered in 1977 and was presented in 12 cities until the mid 90’s, including Cologne, Los Angeles, Venice, Paris and Tokyo.

In Bartók’s Bluebeard, character Judith arrives at Duke Bluebeard’s castle where she is given a set of keys to open seven doors. Behind each door she discovers a torture chamber, weapons, a treasure chamber, a bloody garden, an enormous kingdom and a sea of tears. The seventh room, which Bluebeard opens at Judith’s insistence, contains murdered bodies of the Duke’s former wives.

Judith acknowledges the fate awaiting her, surrenders herself and lets herself be dressed and crowned and goes calmly to meet her end.

Bausch uses Bartók’s Opera as a world of direct images, focussing on the hopeless lack of understanding between man and woman.

The piece counts among Bausch’s most radical and uncompromising works, breaking with any form of conventional dance aesthetic. A brave experiment combining elements from different genres, it is a disturbing, and at the same time, a moving balancing act across various forms of love, tenderness and violence.

Forty three years after its world premiere, the new restaging is led by rehearsal directors Helena Pikon and Barbara Kaufmann as well as original cast members Jan Minarik and Beatrice Libonati.

Tickets: £15 – £75. To book, call the ticket office on 020 7863 8000 or visit

Time: 7:30pm.

Also at Sadler’s Wells: Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes (until January 19, 2020).