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San Francisco Opera hits all the fitting notes in a shocking Dialogues of the Carmelites – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United States Poulenc, Dialogues of the Carmelites: Soloists, orchestra and refrain of San Francisco Opera / Eun Solar Kim (conductor). Warfare Memorial Opera Home, San Francisco, 26.10.2020. (HS)

Nuns type a tableaux of The Nativity © Corey Weaver

Manufacturing:
Manufacturing – Olivier Py
Revival director – Daniel Izzo
Manufacturing designer – Pierre-André Weitz
Lighting – Bertrand Killy
Refrain director – John Keene

Forged:
Blanche de la Power – Heidi Stober
Madame de Croissy – Michaela Schuster
Madame Lidoine – Michelle Bradley
Mom Marie – Melody Moore
Sister Constance – Deanna Breiwick
Marquis de la Power – Dale Travis
Chevalier de la Power – Ben Bliss
Chaplain – Brenton Ryan
Mom Jeanne – Catherine Cook dinner
Sister Mathilde – Taylor Raven
Jailor / M. Javelinot / Thierry – Efraín Solís
First Commissioner – Christopher Oglesby
Second Commissioner / First Officer – Hadleigh Adams

Nuns – Deborah Nansteel, Alexandra Sanchez, Esther Tonea, Chea Kang, Mikayla Sager, Gabrielle Beteag, Jesslyn Thomas, Anne-Marie MacIntosh, Elisa Sunshine, Buffy Baggott, Courtney Miller

San Francisco Opera made an incredible alternative programming Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites for this, its centennial season. The opera had been a landmark for the corporate, making its U.S. premiere right here solely seven months after it premiered at La Scala. Soprano Leontyne Value (within the position of Madame Lidoine) made her debut with a significant opera firm, launching a historic profession and a protracted relationship with San Francisco Opera.

It has been forty years for the reason that firm’s most up-to-date efficiency of Dialogues, and the primary time it has been sung within the authentic French. Earlier performances have been in English, because the composer requested be accomplished within the years earlier than titles.

When seen and heard within the fifth of six performances, very good singing and performing up and down the large forged, plus a shocking efficiency from the orchestra below music director Eun Solar Kim, added as much as nothing wanting a triumph. Kim introduced out Poulenc’s distinctive musical flavors, formed good balances with the singers and located ideally suited tempos. The numerous position debuts match seamlessly into an ensemble that produced one electrical scene after one other and a few attractive a cappella refrain moments.

The manufacturing, borrowed from Théâtre des Champs-Elysée and Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, offered a provocative underpinning for the story of a cloister of nuns pressured to confront, and in the end succumb to, Robespierre’s Reign of Terror within the early 1790s. Olivier Py’s manufacturing design (his first foray into the U.S.) had panels open out and as much as create a cross and reveal the mom superior’s room or the jail the place the nuns have been held within the penultimate scene. At instances, the panels slid silently from the wings to point out a backdrop of winter timber.

Inside this plain body – acceptable for a narrative set in a modest cloister – have been loads of telling particulars. Giving a non secular context to revolutionary slogans, Madame Lidoine provides ‘EN DIEU’ (in God) in an Act III scene to ‘LIBERTÉ’, which had been scrawled on a clean wall by a servant within the opening scene. At varied factors throughout orchestral interludes, charming tableaux used a cross, a sheep, angel wings and a dove carved from light-weight wooden as props to depict The Annunciation, The Nativity, The Final Supper and The Crucifixion.

Most strikingly, the lengthy dying scene of the unique prioress in Act I used to be performed from a mattress hanging vertically on a wall, as if seen from above, the sunshine from a window casting ominous shadows round her.

All through, revival director Daniel Izzo received juicy performing performances that felt like they have been actually occurring.

Michaela Schuster (the prioress) and Heidi Stober (Blanche) in Act I © Corey Weaver

Dialogues focuses on the emotional journey of Blanche, a younger lady whose rich household has managed to remain afloat as revolutionary mobs and the Reign of Terror have had their impact on them. A psychological wreck firstly of the night, Blanche appears to lose her nerve however in the end gathers the braveness to hitch her fellow nuns in martyrdom. Heidi Stober, who has put collectively a string of successes in soprano roles at San Francisco Opera since her 2010 debut as Sophie in Werther, invested Blanche with nervousness and neuroses galore, all of the whereas rendering the music with a gleam.

She was not the one high-level achiever among the many forged. Making their firm debuts, Michaela Schuster delivered a shocking dying scene because the prioress, Madame de Croissy, who can’t summon the phrases to assist Blanche discover her means; and Deanna Breiwick managed to show the bubbly Sister Constance right into a flesh-and-blood character, all of the whereas making her gentle soprano dance.

Michelle Bradley, who’s singing Aida on the Metropolitan Opera this season, had been making ready for her firm debut in a 2020 Ernani, canceled by the pandemic. She introduced a way of splendor and dignity to Madame Lidoine, the following prioress. It was certainly no coincidence that Bradley introduced these related traits, and an impressively assured sound, to the position that Leontyne Value, one other African-American soprano, sang right here in 1957 and 1982.

On the male aspect, the standout was Ben Bliss, who introduced a brilliantly targeted tenor to bear as Blanche’s older brother and parried aptly with Stober of their testy scenes. Brenton Ryan appears to be rising as a worthy ‘home tenor’, his pure type of singing and performing bringing the Chaplain to life; he did properly in Antony and Cleopatra and Eugene Onegin earlier this season.

There have been no weak hyperlinks in the remainder of the forged. The refrain of 16 nuns discovered methods to painting people in dramatic scenes and sang with magnificence within the hymns in Act III. They have been particularly fantastic within the always-effective closing scene, the place their voices drop out one after the other as they sing ‘Salve regina’ till none are left.

In that final scene, somewhat than the nuns exiting the stage to perish as we hear the guillotine slash, Py and Izzo lined them up throughout the stage like a refrain. They responded to the autumn of the guillotine one after the other, then walked off stage towards a starry sky. Every held out her arms, alluding to the crucifixion, however the impact struck me as if, one after the other, that they had flown off nearly peacefully.

Harvey Steiman

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