LES DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES
METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE
MAY 3, 8, 11
YANNICK NÉZET-SÉGUIN, conductor
BLANCHE DE LA FORCE: Isabel Leonard
MME LIDOINE: Adrianne Pieczonka
CONSTANCE: Erin Morley
MÈRE MARIE: Karen Cargill
MME. DE CROISSY: Karita Mattila
CHEVALIER DE LA FORCE: David Portillo
MARQUIS DE LA FORCE: Dwayne Croft
ABOUT THE OPERA
Composer and librettist: Francis Poulenc
First perfomance: Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 26 January 1957
Composed after Gertrud von Le Fort’s novel Die Letze am Schafott and the work of the same name by Georges Bernanos, Les Dialogues des Carmélites is Francis Poulenc most popular work. Though both instrumentation and harmony display a modern style, the opera is remarkable for its incredibly beautiful melodies.
The Dialogues are based on the true story of the Martyrs of Compiègne, Carmelite nuns who were guillotined in Paris in 1794 for refusing to renounce their vocation. The protagonist is Blanche, the daughter of the Maquis de la Force, who enters the convent hoping to find peace of mind. However, death omens follow one another to Blanche’s dismay.
At the outbreak of the French Revolution, Blanche’s brother (Chevalier de la Force) would withdraw her from the convent, but she refuses and he accused her to remain there for fear. Shortly after, the monastery is nationalized and the nuns receive the order to leave it. Then they are arrested and sentenced to death. Shortly before their execution, Blanche appears singing the Salve, Regina and shares their fate.