As I read more about it, I think I may have discovered why this opera was not chosen as one of the AO listening selections for students... but still, the opera is based loosely on the Charles Perrault's folktale: Bluebeard. So we read the folktale (I edited as I went), will listen to the opera in its entirety and then will probably pursue it no further as interpretations can be morbid and strange. For more info see the wiki here.
I do not recommend studying this opera without pre-reading the folktale and giving it some prior thought as to its fitness for your family. :) It is rather morbid as fairy tales can often be.
Illustration by Gustave Doré for Perrault's tale Bluebeard; Source: wikicommons
Bartok's music is not the most wonderfully pleasing to the ear, in my opinion... but we're going to endure for a while anyway. I do prefer his duets for violin and piano concertos over some of the other works.
AO's composer selections for Term 3 of 2011-12:
- String Quartet no. 1 in A minor
- Concerto for Orchestra (Sz. 116, BB 123)
- Mikrokosmos (especially "Boating" and "Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythym.")
- Mathis der Maler (the symphony, not the opera; "Matthias the Painter," based on painter Matthias Grunewald)
- Ludus Tonalis (solo piano)
- Kammermusik No. 5, op. 36 no. 4 'Viola Concerto'