“Blanche, was me,” wrote Francis Poulenc to a friend in a letter about the protagonist of his “mystical opera” Dialogues des carmélites. The opera draws its power from its multiple facets and many possible interpretations. On the one hand, it seems to depict the inner journey of all humans facing death. On the other, the historical subject matter and use of sacred music create an atmosphere that seems distant from our daily lives. At the same time, the violence of the Reign of Terror and its arbitrary executions are a subject that could not be more topical, whether in the context of the Cold War during which the opera was composed or in our own. As a reviewer wrote of Georges Bernanos’ play, on which Poulenc based his opera, it is “a work that obviously responds to the need for spirituality in a time threatened by historical and industrial materialism whose horror we feel. Our shudder, at its approach, is that of Blanche de la Force.”
Dialogues des carmélites - Musical excerpts
Faith, in the midst of the Revolution...
Dialogues des carmélites - Podcast
Dialogues des carmélites - TV ad
Dialogues des carmélites - The story
Dialogues des carmélites - Directing
Dialogues des carmélites - A universal story
Dialogues des carmélites - A new production
Dialogues des carmélites - Strong emotions
Dialogues des carmélites - Marie-Josée Lord
Dialogues des carmélites - Gino Quilico
Dialogues des carmélites - Photos
Credit : Yves Renaud
Born in Paris to a very well-off family—his father was the famed industrialist Poulenc of the Rhône-Poulenc company—, Francis Poulenc began to study piano with his mother at the age of 5. In 1915, he went to study with Ricardo Viñes, who introduced him to the who’s who of the Paris musical avant-garde: Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Satie…
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