Poulenc's 'Dialogues of the Carmelites' from San Francisco Opera

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Saturday, October 01, 2016

Leontyne Price as Madame Lidoine in Dialogues of the Carmelites (Ron Scherl / San Francisco Opera)

Tune in to WQXR this Saturday at 1 pm as the San Francisco Opera performs Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites. The production stars Howard Hensel , Eric Halfvarson and Carol Vanessas Blanche.


Leontyne Price (Madame Lidoine)
Virginia Zeani (Mother Marie)
Betsy Norden (Sister Constance)
Régine Crespin (Madame de Croissy)
Carol Vaness (Blanche)
Howard Hensel (Chevalier de la Force)
Eric Halfvarson (Marquis de la Force)

Conducted by Henry Lewis.

Comments [7]

Julie Leininger Pycior from Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

So lovely that DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES would be aired on the feast day of the famed Carmelite, and Doctor of the Church, Therese of Lisieux http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/

Oct. 01 2016 05:37 PM

I had it on without checking the cast and said to myself "my goodness this is the best Leontyne Price impersonator I've ever heard". Certainly one of 5 greatest female voices of the second half of the 20th century, up there with Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas, Birgit Nilsson and Montserrat Caballé.

Oct. 01 2016 03:22 PM
Suzanne from New York

Thank you, aharwin, for the link to that information. However, I don't agree totally about the fault lying totally with WFMT radio and/or San Francisco Opera. WQXR had the cast list. A few quick clicks of internet research would have yielded enough information for a more informative paragraph. And there is no such singer as "Carol Vanessas Blanche." I'm sure what they meant was "Carol Vaness as Blanche."

Oct. 01 2016 03:03 PM

Even though announced at the beginning of the broadcase, the lack of info shown here is either a failure on the part of the WFMT Radio network, which produces these broadcasts, or San Francisco Opera itself. Here's info from the SFO archive on this performance, which is from 1982: http://archive.sfopera.com/reports/rptOpera-id763.pdf

Oct. 01 2016 02:25 PM
daniel from NYC

What year was it recorded? Why is it you do not give the date of the performance? Is it so difficult to include more information?

Oct. 01 2016 12:17 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

I remember seeing this performance many years ago. Re'gine Crespin was Madame de Croissy in the original recording under Pierre Dervaux's direction. I think this cast would be the envy of any opera house in the world at the time. This opera has always awed and amazed me in that I'm used to thinking of Poulenc as a light-hearted music purveyor only, as in "Le Bal Masque", the "Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra" and even in the "Laudamus te" section of his "Gloria". This light-hearted approach surely fits Sister Constance's initial appearance, but it's the tragedy that Poulenc writes for the agonizing death of Madame de Croissy whose underlying low string ostinato appears in the final scene in the "Salve Regina" over which an exultant melody is punctuated by offstage sound of the guillotine's blade falling (indicated by a downward-pointing arrow in the score), that proves the mastery of the composer. Sitting close to the stage and orchestra pit, you feel the reverberation of the "guillotine" as a physical sensation. At the conclusion, there wasn't a sound in the house until Betsy Norden, Sister Constance, came out for her bow her face smiling, accompanied by a deafening cheer from the audience. I feel Blanche is the heroine in that she returned to the convent so that Constance wouldn't have to face martyrdom without her best friend being there.

Oct. 01 2016 09:55 AM
Suzanne from New York

My goodness -- What is wrong with this website today? This 20th-century masterpiece about nuns during the French revolution "stars" two male supporting characters?? And with Leontyne Price and Virginia Zeani in the cast (great ladies in their 80s and 90s, respectively and therefore long past active performing), why isn't there any explanation about this being an archival performance? Not to mention the fact that Regine Crespin and Henry Lewis left this world years ago.

Oct. 01 2016 08:13 AM

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