The Power of Francis Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites”

The Imaginative Conservative | 6/14/2019 | Michael De Sapio
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Francis Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” is based on the true story of the Martyrs of Compiègne, a community of sixteen Carmelite nuns who were guillotined during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Many hold it in high esteem as one of the twentieth century’s greatest operas.

The Metropolitan Opera’s series of High Definition (HD) broadcasts, transmitting opera performances live into movie theaters around the world, has been a bright spot on the cultural landscape for some time. Attending an HD broadcast is the next best thing to being at the opera house, and sometimes it can be even better. That was my distinct impression when I attended this season’s revival of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, one of the company’s most revered productions.

Opera - Story - Martyrs - Compiègne - Community

The 1957 opera is based on the true story of the Martyrs of Compiègne, a community of sixteen Carmelite nuns who were guillotined during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. The libretto is the work of Georges Bernanos, the French Catholic author best known for his novel The Diary of a Country Priest.

Dialogues balances the sweep of historical events with the inner spiritual journey of Blanche de la Force, a young woman from an aristocratic family who fears the oncoming Revolution. Blanche’s fear impels her to join the Carmelite order, but in doing so she goes straight into the target of the revolutionary mob. Arrested and cast out of their convent, the nuns take a vow of martyrdom rather than renounce their vocation. Blanche initially panics and runs away, but at the last moment she finds her courage, steps out from the crowd and joins her sisters at the guillotine.

Dialogues - Esteem - Century - Operas - Repression

Many hold Dialogues in high esteem as one of the twentieth century’s greatest operas, even for its subject alone. The intolerant repression of religion by the architects of the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Imaginative Conservative
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