Culture Magazine

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Dialogues of the Carmelites

By Superconductor
One of the greatest Met productions receives a necessary revival.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Dialogues of the Carmelites

The sisters of the Carmelite order in John Dexter's production of Dialogues of the Carmelites.
Photo by James Heffernan © 1977 The Metropolitan Opera.

The Metropolitan Opera's John Dexter production of Dialogues des Carmélites is the stuff of legend. It's the Holy Grail for lovers of French opera and modernistic staging: a stark, elegant vision of emotional depth and religious beauty.  The good news is that this revival stars Patricia Racette as Blanche, a role she sung at the Met ten years ago. Felicity Palmer and Isabel Leonard round out a stellar cast. The bad news: the Met has scheduled just three performances.
Dialogues is a stark, sad true story of an order of Carmelite nuns whose world collapses with the onset of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. It is also the story of Blanche, terrified daughter of a wealthy family who fins her inner strength as a nun, overcomig her fear to join her sisters in a vow of holy martyrdom.
François Poulenc's music combines 20th century ideas with medieval French polyphony to create a unique sound-world for his nuns to inhabit. He said: "You must forgive my Carmelites. It seems they can only sing tonal music." And that's what you'll hear, all the way up to the finale: a chorus of the Salve Regina that is repeatedly interrupted by the sickening, falling thud of the guillotine's blade--and the silencing of their voices, one by one.
Dialogues of the Carmelites opens May 4. Please note that the Saturday matinée starts at the ungodly hour of 11:30am.

Recording Recommendations:
Orchestra and chorus of the Opera Lyon cond. Kent Nagano (Virgin/EMI 1992)
Blanche: Catherine Dubosc
Madame de Croissy: Rita Gorr
Mere Marie: Martine Dupuy
Madame Lidoine: Rachel Yakar
This is the second major recording of this opera, a complete, unabridged recording of Poulenc's score conducted by the sensitive baton of Kent Nagano. Recorded at the Opera Lyon with a strong cast, led by Catherine Dubosc, Rachel Yakar and legendary mezzo-soprano Rita Gorr who sang in the Paris premiere in 1957. There is no libretto.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • The 2012-2013 Superconductor Metropolitan Opera Preview

    Yes, it's that time of the year again. by Paul J. Pelkonen A lake of blood is just one controversial image in François Girard's new production of Parsifal,... Read more

    The 13 August 2012 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • Metropolitan Opera Preview: Turandot

    The Met revives Franco Zeffirelli's monumental staging of the Puccini favorite. by Paul J. Pelkonen She's looking for a few good men:Maria Guleghina returns in... Read more

    The 14 August 2012 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • Metropolitan Opera Preview: Carmen

    Anita Rachvelishvili returns as Bizet's sexy Gypsy woman. by Paul Pelkonen Sex type thing: Anita Rachvelishvilli as Carmen.Photo by Marty Sohl © 2010 The... Read more

    The 15 August 2012 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • Metropolitan Opera Preview: Il Trovatore

    Metropolitan Opera Preview: Il Trovatore by Paul J. Pelkonen Carmen Giannatasio, the Metropolitan Opera's new Leonora in Il Trovatore. The Metropolitan... Read more

    The 16 August 2012 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • Metropolitan Opera Preview: Le Nozze Di Figaro

    The Met revives Jonathan Miller's production of the Mozart comedy. by Paul J. Pelkonen Act IV of Mozart's Figaro. Production by Jonathan Miller.Photo by Marty... Read more

    The 19 August 2012 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • Metropolitan Opera: Un Ballo in Maschera

    David Alden drops his new Masked Ball on the Met. by Paul J. Pelkonen "Your Majesty, you have dandruff.": Dmitri Hvorostovsky (left) shares hair secretswith... Read more

    The 20 August 2012 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • Metropolitan Opera Preview: Aida

    The Met brings back its big Egyptian show...again. by Paul J. Pelkonen Trapped in Egypt: Hui He as Aida.Photo by Marty Sohl © 2009 The Metropolitan... Read more

    The 22 August 2012 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA

Add a comment