Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites

Dmitri Tcherniakov (stage director), Kent Nagano (conductor) — With Susan Gritton (Blanche de la Force), Alain Vernhes (Marquis de la Force), Bernard Richter (Chevalier de la Force), Sylvie Brunet (Madame de Croissy) ...

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Dmitri Tcherniakov — Stage director, set designer

Elena Zaytseva — Costume designer

Gleb Filshtinsky — Lighting

Andrea Schönhofer — Dramaturgy

Alain Vernhes — Marquis de la Force

Susan Gritton — Blanche de la Force, Sister Blanche of the Agony of Christ

Bernard Richter — Chevalier de la Force

Sylvie Brunet — Madame de Croissy, the prioress of the monastery

Soile Isokoski — Madame Lidoine/Mother Marie of St. Augustine, the new prioress

Susanne Resmark — Mother Marie of the Incarnation, sub-prioress

Hélène Guilmette — Sister Constance of St. Denis, a young novice

Heike Grötzinger — Mother Jeanne of the Holy Child Jesus, the oldest nun

Anaïk Morel — Sister Mathilde

Kevin Conners — Chaplain of the monastery

Ulrich Reiss — First commissioner

John Chest — Second commissioner

Christian Rieger — Officer

Program notes

Rife with historical references, Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites is a 20th-century opera masterpiece and an insightful exploration of wide-reaching themes: life, death, honor, and religion. In 1789, at the beginning of French Revolution, Blanche de la Force—daughter of a nobleman—senses the rising wave of anti-aristocratic sentiment and decides to become a nun, hoping to find safety in the convent. After their prioress dies, the whole convent—including the new Sister Blanche of the Agony of Christ—take a vow of martyrdom and, when sentenced to death, resign themselves to their fate, singing the moving "Salve Regina" as they march to the guillotine.

Visionary Russian stage director Dmitri Tcherniakov, winner of four Golden Mask awards for Best Director, transposes Poulenc's opera into a Soviet context, with sparse and unadorned scenography and a stellar cast that includes Susan Gritton as Sister Blanche and Bernard Richter as her brother, the Chevalier de la Force. Under the baton of the great Kent Nagano, the Orchestra and Choir of the Bayerische Staatsoper bring out the poetry in Poulenc's opera, with its "subtle and intricate tonal language [that] is by turns hymnal and haunting" (Anthony Tommasini).

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