Live Recording from Teatro Degli Arcimboldi, Milan, 2004
Dagmar Schellenberger (Blanche), Anja Silja (Madame de Croissy), Barbara Dever (Mère Marie de l‘Incarnation), Laura Aikin (Soeur Constance de Saint-Denis) & Christopher Robertson (Le Marquis de la Force)
When Canadian opera director Robert Carsen produced his intense and cogent staging of Francis Poulenc’s compelling opera Les Dialogues des Carmélites at the Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam in 2001, it impressed audiences and critics alike, and also gained the interest of Riccardo Muti, then musical director of La Scala in Milan. He arranged for the production to be staged by the famous Milanese opera company. Muti himself conducted Orchestra and Chorus of the Scala and a superb, handpicked cast of singers.
German soprano Dagmar Schellenberger, who received much critical acclaim for this, her debut at La Scala, takes the role of the young aristocrat Blanche who, during the French Revolution, seeks salvation from her terror in a convent. The action takes place in Paris and Compiègne between 1789 and 1794 and highlights the impacts of the Revolution and later Robespierre’s Reign of Terror on religious institutions. Following a decree dissolving all the country’s religious houses, the Carmelite nuns take a vow of martyrdom and sing their way to the scaffold. The last to die is Blanche, together with Soeur Constance, her close friend in the convent, sung by the American soprano Laura Aikin.
American mezzo Barbara Dever gave her debut at La Scala in this production in the role of the assistant prioress Mother Marie. The production was particularly notable for the participation of Anja Silja as Madame de Croissy, and this recording allows us to experience one of the greatest singing actresses of our times.
Sound Format: LPCM Stereo, DD 5.1
Picture Format: 16:9
DVD Format: DVD 9, NTSC
Subtitles: GB, DE, FR, ES, IT
Running Time: 149 mins
“Scene changes and atmosphere are created wholly through Jean Kalman's state-of-the-art lighting...and by Carsen's detailed, realistic direction of the singing actors. If anything, Muti's contribution is the more radical...he sometimes pushes Poulenc's deliberately simple (but never simplistic) writing to points of hysteria that more suggest Stravinsky or Bartok. It's a view, and mostly it works...The cast are superb.”
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