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Subject: Re: Dialogues des Carmélites : A Brief Observation
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 6 Nov 2017 23:12:55 -0600
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Your reaction to the finale of this masterpiece is not unlike my own.  The full chorus (which gradually diminishes) as the blade of the guillotine slashes through it is truly ghastly.  As the chorus continues to caravan on, the sound of the blade hitting its mark can leave one in a state of total emotional collapse.  It's a perfect illustration of the fact that "art can sometimes disturb and elicit feelings of anguish".  I know of no other opera that achieves this effect more blatantly than the finale of "Dialogues des Carmelites".  Also the prolonged death scene of the Old Prioress (especially as portrayed by Regine Crespin) -- as well as the great aria/scene of Madame Lidoine (there's a spectacular rendition of it by Leontyne Price on her RCA Prima Donna III album).
     Not an easy opera to countenance, but what a piece of art it is!  A total musical and theatrical experience.
> On November 6, 2017 at 7:02 PM Tom Frey <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> 
> I have never see or heard a complete Dialogues but listened to a broadcast during the last act. The music of the nuns being executed was so frightening I could scarcely bear it. I'm sure that all who post are correct. That it is a monumental work. But I am not able to handle it with my heart condition. I do realize that opera is loaded with violence and cruelty. Not everything is Barber of Seville. Even Hansel and Gretel has moment of mayhem.  But Poulenc is so graphic in his portrayal of decapitation. It's just too much for me.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: G. Paul Padillo <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:30:33 -0500 (EST)
> Subject: Dialogues des Carmélites  :  A Brief Observation
> 
> I was discussing Poulenc’s “Dialogues des Carmélites ” earlier today and remarking what a 
> remarkable history it has had since its premiere.  Each of us were all hard pressed to think 
> of any opera in the 2nd half of the 20th century which had as impressive casts in its first 
> year as did Poulenc’s.  1957 saw the following baker’s dozen of singers . . . not to mention 
> singing in three different languages (you know what I mean!): 
> 
> Virginia Zeani
> Denise Duval
> Rita Gorr
> Leontyne Price
> Regine Crespin
> Leyla Gencer
> Patricia Neway
> Fiorenza Cossotto
> Dorothy Kirsten
> Claramae Turner
> Blanche Thebom
> Rosemary Kuhlmann
> Judith Raskin
> 
> Like the very best works of any era, the power of Poulenc’s opus carries as much dramatic, 
> musical and theatrical weight now as it did when new.
> 
> p.
> 
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