Shy and insecure Blanche remains as a novice nun even as her family flees the French Revolution, torn between her duty to her convent and fear of the guillotine.
Written in the 1950s and one of the most successful operas of the later decades of the 20th century, Dialogues des Carmélites is a rare case of a modern work that is equally esteemed by audiences and experts.
The opera focuses on a young member of an order of Carmelite nuns, the aristocratic Blanche de la Force, who must overcome a pathological timidity in order to answer her life’s calling. The score reflects key aspects of its composer’s personality: Francis Poulenc was an urbane Parisian with a profound mystical dimension, and the opera addresses both the characters’ internal lives and their external realities.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the classic John Dexter production of Poulenc’s devastating story of faith and martyrdom. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings the touching role of Blanche and soprano Karita Mattila is the Prioress.
French composer Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) wrote the opera's libretto himself, based on an unproduced screenplay (that was then turned into a stage play) by Georges Bernanos, a French author with an interest in politics and religion, which in turn is based on the 1931 novella Die Letzte am Schafott (The Song at the Scaffold) by German writer Gertrud von Le Fort.
Captured live at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York.
Sung in French with English subtitles.
This is a screening.