Dialogue des Carmélites

To the RSAMD tonight for the decapitation of nuns. An odd way to spend the evening, but it was clear that they all had it coming to them in the end.

It is a great piece and was extremely well staged. Amongst other good singing, Soeur Constance stood out from the crowd.

The first third was marred a bit by tuning problems in the orchestra. The second was enlivened when the nun’s chorus eventually burst into a hymn. (One had started to wonder whether they ever would). And the third, when the nun’s get their comeuppance from Madame Guillotine, was devastating.

Its set in revolutionary France in 1789. Bad things happened to convents. Religious houses had much to fear from the mob. Made me think of my own congregation facing mob violence several times in its history.

Priests run out of town. Chapels turned over. Faith kept.

Rating: ★★★½☆


  1. Moyra says

    Mmmmm now you’re giving me ideas!

  2. Oooh, I have that on CD and haven’t listened to it for ages. Love that chopping sound!

  3. I was told that some kind of scaffold had been rigged up offstage complete with block and tackle to provide the definitive thud as nun by nun, they fell to the floor.

    The stage was littered with dead nuns by the end.

  4. It is a real shocker at the end. Liked Poulenc’s music, and the singing was good (Monday performance).

  5. Jonathan Ensor says

    Attended the performance on Thursday. Particularly liked the voices of Mere Marie(Elysia Leech) and the Father Confessor(L’Aumonier), James Geer.

    Tim Dean led the performance admirably and there was hardly any poor casting although obviously with a student performance some were better suited to their roles than others.

    James Geer is to be singing the Male Chorus in Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia” at Aldeburgh-a favourite opera of mine with the Pagan story offset and contrasted with the choruses commenting from a Christian perpective.

    It was good to see(at a distance) Donald Maxwell and Linda Ormiston in the foyer before the performance, both professional singers of some distinction. I remember them both from Good Shepherd Chorus performances at St Mary’s years ago.(Donald Maxwell sang the baritone part in a performance of Elgar’s “The Light of Life” and Linda Ormiston, who studied maths at Glasgow Uni and singing with the late Winifred Busfield who taught me, sang the alto part in Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody under Christopher Seaman.

    The staging of Dialogue des Carmelites was very effective and succeeded in conveying most of the pathos of the final scene without gross exhibitionism, which would have made it unbearable to watch.

  6. It’s a great work – saw it at ENO.

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