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Lloyd's production was very convincing in the detail of the Carmelite way of life, but for me she did not always evoke a real religious feeling; this was a cool, rather Northern view of Mediterranean monasticism. This means that the ending comes perilously close to over-heated sentimentality -- something which Poulenc would have abhorred.

Catrin Wyn-Davies as Blanche. Photo © 2005 Stephen Vaughan
Catrin Wyn-Davies as Blanche. Photo © 2005 Stephen Vaughan

Under Paul Daniel the orchestra was in fine form and played Poulenc's rich score with relish; too much relish in fact as at times it was rather to powerful for the singers -- a perennial complaint in this house.

Catrin Wyn-Davies. Photo © 2005 Stephen Vaughan
Catrin Wyn-Davies. Photo © 2005 Stephen Vaughan

All in all this was a terrific evening which just missed being outstanding.

Copyright © 20 October 2005 Robert Hugill, London UK

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Further performances of this revival of Phyllida Lloyd's 1999 staging of The Carmelites (Poulenc after Bernanos) take place at 7.30pm on 22, 27 and 29 October and 3 November 2005 at the London Coliseum. Further details from English National Opera. Robert Hugill's review is based on the 15 October 2005 performance.

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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller