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Subject: Re: Dialogues of the Carmelites
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Wed, 21 Feb 2018 10:49:38 -0500
Content-Type:text/plain
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"The music in Carmelites makes one almost suspect a confectionary
misspelling -- sickly sweet and pleasurable in small quantities but
actually of little nutritious value. There are a few scenes that stick out
but the lack of real musical invention makes it a dull overall listening
experience."  (Snip)
******

This (along with nearly everything else in the post, attached to the bottom, 
where it belongs) has to be among the most hilarious, yet still bilious 
statements of bullshit I’ve ever run across regarding what is widely, and 
correctly accepted as one of the masterpieces of the mid 20th century, 
bringing to mind the nonsense by some British critic citing “Nozze di 
Figaro” as an inflated, overrated, bore “people only pretend to like because 
they’re supposed to,” proving no lack of idiocy in the world of criticism and 
journalism.  

15-20 years ago I had “dialogues” with a fellow lister who hated this opera, 
stating how he “was enraged by “the passivity of the Sisters of Carmel” 
and their like “lambs-to-the-slaughter” idea of martyrdom, questioning why 
a composer could possibly be drawn to this text.  Poulenc should “have 
been ashamed to bring this before the public .  .  . At a time when the 
whole world was still reeling . . . how could Poulenc choose to set this little 
antique tragedy about the Carmelite nuns of 1789."

The beauty – and horror – of Poulenc’s opera, I believe, is how it addresses 
universally many issues and, despite the specificity of it its setting, is 
ultimately a story that could take, and has taken place at any given time in 
any part of the world.  In “Dialogues” Poulenc has given us one of the few 
repertory pieces which, alongside Wagner’s “Parsifal” has caused many to 
profoundly examine one’s personal faith, whatever that faith may be.


As to the irrational necessity felt to pit Poulenc’s opera with those less 
frequently performed (“more esoteric,” if you will) operas by Janacek and 
Busoni is unnecessary and, ultimately, useless.  The three composers had 
entirely different – and unique – styles that had/have nothing to do with 
each other aside from each man being at the top of his game and 
producing works of genius.  A personal preference for another work does 
not diminish the artistic accomplishment of Monsieur Poulenc with his 
Dialogues.

From the initial buzz at its La Scala premiere to continued productions 
round the world, ever since, Poulenc’s opera has lost nothing of the power 
with which it came into this world.  I have seen this work a number of 
times in a various productions and it continues to wring tears from these 
eyes while also, as the greatest art can, connect the mind to the heart.

p.


* * * * *


Anon blogger wrote:

>Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites doesn't at all convince. The unlikeable
tacky religious kitsch (not even likeable in a camp "good because it's bad"
way) of the situation and music as well as the poverty of the actual
musical material makes for a long evening. Though the characters are
strongly drawn, they are hard to relate to - what are we to make of the
eliptical and abnormal reasoning of the minds of the devout, whose attitude
to life and death is so different from our own? Only Soeur Constance is
really likeable, but because she's so explicitly normal and seems to lack
the strangeness of the order's religious sentiments (until the ending that
is). The music in Carmelites makes one almost suspect a confectionary
misspelling -- sickly sweet and pleasurable in small quantities but
actually of little nutritious value. There are a few scenes that stick out
but the lack of real musical invention makes it a dull overall listening
experience.

http://capricciomusic.blogspot.com/2011/03/dialogues-des-carmelites.html

------------

Agree that the music is, if not over-sweet, not always very nutritious
(like Poulenc generally).

(My understanding is that Poulenc was digging for the real France beneath
the official lies, and finding Catholicism, aristocracy, the small
community and self-sacrifice where others see only the regimented terror of
the modern state)

Of course it is not at the artistic level of 'Mathis der Maler', 'Doktor
Faust' or 'From The House of The Dead' (Z mrtvého domu)..... but look wh
what
has come out of France since then!

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