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Opera in three acts

Composer Francis Poulenc · Libretto by the composer after the correspondent drama by Georges Bernanos based on the novel "Die Letzte am Schafott" by Gertrud von Le Fort
In French with German surtitles

Thursday, 01. April 2010
07:00 pm – 10:20 pm
Nationaltheater

Duration est. 3 hours 20 minutes · 1 Interval between 1. Teil and 2. Teil (est. 08:30 pm - 09:00 pm )

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Cast

Musikalische Leitung
Kent Nagano
Inszenierung und Bühne
Dmitri Tcherniakov
Kostüme
Elena Zaytseva
Licht
Gleb Filshtinsky
Dramaturgie
Andrea Schönhofer
Chor
Stellario Fagone

Marquis de la Force
Alain Vernhes
Blanche de la Force
Susan Gritton
Chevalier de la Force
Bernard Richter
Madame de Croissy
Sylvie Brunet-Grupposo
Madame Lidoine
Soile Isokoski
Mère Marie
Susanne Resmark
Soeur Constance
Hélène Guilmette
Mère Jeanne
Heike Grötzinger
Soeur Mathilde
Anaïk Morel
L'aumônier
Kevin Conners
1er commissaire
Ulrich Reß
2ème commissaire
John Chest
L'officier
Todd Boyce
Le geôlier
Levente Molnár
Thierry
Rüdiger Trebes
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper
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In his 1957 opera Dialogues des Carmélites, French composer Francis Poulenc sets revolution and religion on a collision course: young Blanche de la Force, haunted from birth by panic attacks, seeks refuge in the isolation of a convent, where she hopes to overcome her torturous fear of life. Her entry into the Order of the Carmelites and her conversations with the other nuns strengthen her and her faith, but the fear remains. The French Revolution does not stop at the walls of the convent and prohibits the nuns from carrying out the rules of their order. They rise in opposition, even accepting a martyr’s death rather than give in. All except Blanche – she flees again, terrified of death. The steadfastness with which the sisters face their martyrdom rescues Blanche from her anxiety. Fearlessly, she follows them to the gallows.

 

Part One

Blanche de la Force suffers dreadfully from panic attacks but is unable to find solace and understanding anywhere – not even in the bosom of her own family. Her father, Marquis de la Force, and her brother, Chevalier de la Force, treat her as if she were a weak child devoid of any abilities whatsoever. Blanche decides to renounce this world and find solace and salvation for herself in the strict seclusion of a Carmelite convent.

Blanche has a long conversation with the old prioress, Madame de Croissy. She finds a new family among the nuns of the Carmelite community, the old prioress takes the place of a mother in her life, and the community becomes her refuge. Every one of the nuns has joined the Carmelite order at some point in order to protect themselves from the problems of the world and find a way to salvation. Blanche is full of illusions and works hard to be accepted by her fellow nuns, overcome her own fears and cope with all the tests. Constance, who is also new to the community, is fond of Blanche and senses that she needs support and sympathy.

After a serious illness the old prioress dies a gruesome death. The loss of Madame de Croissy affects Blanche deeply, making it clear to her that the Carmelite order cannot become a fortress against fear for anyone. The old prioress, gravely ill, fails to pass this final test of facing death with courage. Agony overcomes her in a most degrading way.

Without the support of the prioress, who was so concerned for the state of their souls, the nuns are afraid of their fate and the uncertainty of the future. Blanche no longer feels secure. Mother Marie hopes to be chosen to be the next prioress. She is certain that she knows which path the community should now follow. However, Madame Lidoine is chosen to be the new prioress. She has completely different moral concepts.

Part Two

Blanche’s brother arrives unexpectedly at the convent. He hopes to be able to persuade Blanche to give up the idea of a life in seclusion and return home. The Chevalier tries everything to shake his sister’s steadfastness, soothing words, pleas, threats, and even describes the illness of her unhappy father. Painful though it is for Blanche, she also survives this test and remains in the convent.
However, the world outside the convent intrudes on the security of this community from an unexpected direction. Their father confessor, their only link with the outside world, is suddenly removed from his offi ce within the church and is, as a result, morally dejected. The surprise appearance of the commissars confuses and frightens the community. Mother Marie calls on all of them to remain steadfast in their resistance. But even within the Carmelite community there is no unity.

When Madame Lidoine is forced to leave the community for a short time, Mother Marie uses the opportunity to win the Carmelites over to the idea of taking a strict vow of martyrdom. She impresses the nuns with words about a danger threatening them from the outside world and the importance of salvation to such an extent that the vote on the vow is unanimous. Blanche, deeply moved by disappointment and fear, secretly leaves the community.
The order to clear the convent is implemented. The nuns are forced to leave their community. Mother Marie goes to fi nd Blanche, who is leading a miserable existence in the empty house of her dead father. Blanche learns of the mortal danger which threatens her fellow nuns, but Mother Marie fails to convince her to return to share the lot of the Carmelites.

The nuns want to preserve their refuge at all costs. As they see the outside world as an unavoidable danger for the existence of their convent, the Carmelites are prepared to die. Madame Lidoine, the new prioress, remains with them in order to strengthen their spirits. Mother Marie does not remain, however, she fails to find in herself the spiritual strength to accept death.

A huge crowd has gathered and the nuns are preparing to die as martyrs. At this point Blanche appears, she has conquered her fear. Freed from all doubts, she dares to try to prevent the catastrophe which is imminent. At the cost of her life she saves the Carmelite nuns.

Dmitri Tcherniakov

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Biographies

Kent Nagano, geboren in Kalifornien, war Musikdirektor des Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, der Opéra National de Lyon, des Hallé Orchestra und der Los Angeles Opera sowie künstlerischer Leiter und Chefdirigent des Deutschen Symphonieorchesters Berlin, bevor er 2006 Generalmusikdirektor der Bayerischen Staatsoper wurde. In dieser Position, die er bis 2013 innehatte, leitete er zahlreiche Neuproduktionen, darunter Billy Budd, Chowanschtschina, Eugen Onegin, Idomeneo, Ariadne auf Naxos, Wozzeck, Lohengrin, Die schweigsame Frau, Saint François d’Assise sowie die Uraufführungen von Wolfgang Rihms Das Gehege, Unsuk Chins Alice in Wonderland, Minas Borboudakis’ liebe.nur liebe und Jörg Widmanns Babylon. Gastkonzerte führten Nagano und das Bayerische Staatsorchester u.a. nach Mailand, Moskau, Linz, Hamburg, Budapest sowie zu Festivals wie denen von Grafenegg, Gent, Berlin und Baden-Baden. Seit 2006 ist Kent Nagano zudem Musikdirektor des Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, seit 2013 auch Erster Gastdirigent der Göteborger Symphoniker. (Stand 2014)

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