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It is a relief that in the final scene Robert Carsen as director does not make each nun approach the scaffold for individual decapitation. Poulenc's orchestra makes all too clear the precise moment when a head is severed and tumbles down. Riccardo Muti, looking the pensioner in every line of his careworn face, has mercy on us, and lets the admirable Scala orchestra downplay the beheadings. Whether Carsen's alternative solution to the final guillotine is satisfactory remains at least questionable. The collapse of the nuns, now properly including both Constance and a last-minute Blanche, suggests nothing more terrifying than a ghoulish game of 'Ring a ring of roses'.

Riccardo Muti conducting Act 3 of 'Dialogues des Carmélites'. Screenshot © 2004 RAI Trade
Riccardo Muti conducting Act 3 of 'Dialogues des Carmélites'. Screenshot © 2004 RAI Trade


Copyright © 2 January 2008 Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt


Francis Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

DVWW-OPDDC DVD9 NTSC 16:9 All regions DD 5.1, LPCM Stereo NEW RELEASE 149' 2004 RAI Trade, 2007 TDK Marketing Europe GmbH

Christopher Robertson, Le Marquis de la Force; Dagmar Schellenberger, Blanche; Gordon Gietz, Le Chevalier; Anja Silva, Madame de Croissy; Gwynne Geyer, Madame Lidoine; Barbara Dever, Mère Marie de l'Incarnation; Laura Aikin, Soeur Constance de Saint-Denis; Annamaria Popescu, Mère Jeanne de l'Enfant-Jésus; Sara Allegretta, Soeur Mathilde; Mario Bolognesi, L'aumônier du Carmel; Giuseppe Altomare, Officier; Gregory Bonfatti, Premier commissaire; Ernesto Panariello, Deuxième commissaire; Philippe Fourcade, Le geôlier; Danilo Serraiocco, Thierry; Francesco Musinu, Monsieur Javelinot; Sae Kyung Rim, female voice; Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala; Bruno Casoni, chorus master; Riccardo Muti, music director; Robert Carsen, stage director; Michael Levine, sets; Falk Bauer, costumes; Jean Kalman, lighting; Carlo Battistoni, TV and video director

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963): Dialogues des Carmélites (opera in three acts and twelve parts, with libretto by the composer, after Georges Bernanos), recorded live at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Milan, February 2004


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