A long time had to pass between the real event – the death of Carmelite nuns from the Compiègne convent during the French Revolution (1789) – and the 1957 world premiere of Les dialogues des carmélites at La Scala. The nuns’ fate was first described in a novel by Gertrud von Le Fort. Then, their story was brought to the theatre stage by Georges Bernanos. The play caught the attention of Francis Poulenc, who composed an intimate score, hardly reducing the original text. Although the plot is set in 18th-century France, the composer saw this work as an epitome of the atrocities of World War II and concentration camps. Countess Blanche joins a convent, which is soon destroyed by the revolution. The girl escapes, but other nuns are sentenced to the guillotine. At the last moment, Blanche voluntarily joins them and ascends the scaffold.
conductor: Yannick Nézet-Séguin
production: John Dexter
set designer: David Reppa
costume designer: Jane Greenwood
lighting designer: Gil Wechsler
cast: Isabel Leonard as Blanche de la Force, Adrianne Pieczonka as Mme Lidoine, Erin Morley as Constance, Karen Cargill as Mere Marie, Karita Mattila as Mme de Croissy, David Portillo as Chevalier de la Force, Dwayne Croft as Marquis de la Force