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Subject: Re: Dialogues des Carmélites : A Brief Observation
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Tue, 7 Nov 2017 10:31:37 -0500
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Wow!  I was at those performances of Summer Opera Theatre of Washington.  So that was 
YOU up there throwing the buckets of blood!  It was bone chilling, accentuating the horror 
of the moment.  I also remember the staging being a bit of the “Marat Sade” variety, as we 
entered, the company was seated on benches on opposite sides of the stage “watching” the 
action.  Summer Opera was lucky in having so many of its productions directed by John 
Lehmeyer – whose work I always found some of the most satisfying in the Washington area.  
Lehmeyer was mostly known as a director in those parts, but was also well regarded as a 
costume and scenic designer whose work was seen virtually all over the country in both 
opera companies and spoken theatre.  

Musically, I think I’m recalling this correctly, but for this production a reduced orchestration 
that would fit in the Hartke pit had been commissioned and completed but the Poulenc 
estate refused to allow it to be used, without enormous fee paid for “NOT” using the full 
orchestration.  Bizarre.  There were, indeed, two pianos in the pit, but also a large organ, 
which was, creepily, suspended above the stage, adding an unnecessary element of horror 
and “muddied” the sound a bit, which would have been better served by the two piano 
reduction.

The production featured two, then Washington favorites, Deidra Palmour as Blanche and 
Sharon Christman as Mme. Lidoine, and both were riveting in their performances.  
Christman’s was a particularly welcome return after setting Washington on its ear as Anna 
Bolena two seasons earlier.

I’ve been fortunate to see many performances of Poulenc’s masterpiece, but the production 
that remains for me the best – and for so many others – remains John Dexter’s for the Met.  
I first saw it in its 1st or 2nd season (1977) then again, the following year on tour and many 
subsequent performances, each with remarkable casts:  Maria Ewing, Regine Crespin, 
Shirley Verrett, Jessye Norman, Patricia Racette, Leona Mitchell, Leontyne Price, Mignon 
Dunn, Frederica von Stade, Patricia Craig, Florence Quivar, Dawn Upshaw, Teresa Stratas, 
Helga Dernesch, Felecity Palmer, and of course, the ubiquitous Betsy Norden!

p.

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