Sneak Preview Review: Dialogues des Carmelites

by Lynn on May 9, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

Dialogues  des Carmélites

At the Four Seasons Centre, produced by the Canadian Opera Company. Music by Francis Poulenc. Text by Georges Bernanos. Conducted by Johannes Debus. Directed by Robert Carson. Set by Michael Levine. Costumes by Falk Bauer. Original lighting by Jean Kalman. Re-created by Cor van den Brink. Starring Isabel Bayrakdarian, Hélène Guilmette, Judith Forst, Adrianne Pieczonka.

Plays until May 25. In French with English Surtitles.

It’s the time of the French Revolution and no one of noble birth is safe. Mobs roam the streets challenging anyone who looks aristocratic. Blanche de la Force, is the daughter of the Marquis, noble birth, but timid. The world scares her. A servant’s shadow on the wall throws her in a panic. She decides to become a Carmelite nun to escape the world she finds so horrible. Even then her strength is tested and often she shrinks from any kind of emotional situation.

Finally the French Revolution knocks on the Carmelite convent. The Revolutionary Government tells them the convent must be disbanded and the nuns not carry on any religious rituals. They agree to become martyrs. Again Blanche runs away unable to cope. The nuns are sentenced to death by guillotine. As they go to their death one by one, Blanche appears at the end, ready to die with her sisters.

I won’t comment on the singing or the orchestra (not my forte) —but will on the theatricality.  Director Robert Carson’s production is stunning. He is a director who has supreme respect for the piece. He never gets in the way with clever invention that pulls focus from the work. Instead his spare, exquisite production serves the piece at every turn. The detail is breathtaking. The last scene is unexpected in the way it’s staged but absolutely thrilling theatrically and emotionally. The music is glorious.

Full review on Friday morning May 10 on CIUT FRIDAY MORNING, 89.5 fm from 9 am to 10 am. Along with a review of STOPHEART.

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1 Robert Missen May 9, 2013 at 8:51 am

Right on, Lynn. I won’t hesitate to comment on the musicmaking. I thought it was equally exceptional. We are indeed blessed to have artistic activity of this high standard in our city.