Bluebeard enters his cold, gloomy castle, followed by Judith. Seeing seven locked doors, she asks him for the keys. Behind the first door is a torture chamber, behind the others an arsenal of weapons, a treasure chamber, an enchanted garden and Bluebeard's immense domain. Light streams in through the doors, illuminating the gloomy castle. Despite Bluebeard's warnings, Judith wants to see the last rooms. She discovers a lake of tears and three women who rule over his morning, day and evening; she will be the woman of the nights. One door after another closes. The women return to their chambers, and Judith follows them. Darkness reigns once again.
Bartók called his opera an "infinitely sad adagio". Inspired by Maurice Maeterlinck's highly symbolic tale, the work takes us on a psychological journey into the soul of the legendary Bluebeard, who is characterized here not as a ruthless murderer but as an unhappy and melancholy idealist. With the use of Hungarian singers, Sir Georg Solti found the ideal cast to render grippingly the great drama and emotional depth of this so Hungarian and yet universal work.