Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeCultureMusicKeeping the faith during Reign of Terror

Keeping the faith during Reign of Terror

Gente, Gente! is presenting its company debut of Dialogues des Carmélites by Francis Poulenc June 21-29 at Pitt Street Uniting Church.

Premiering in 1956, Poulenc’s three-act opera is inspired by the true-life story of the Martyrs of Compiègne, a group of Carmelite nuns that existed at the time of the French Revolution. The nuns’ refusal to renounce their vocation doomed them to the guillotine and they were executed in Paris during the Reign of Terror in 1794.

Act one of the opera begins in 1789 at the start of the French Revolution with Blanche de la Force joining the Carmelite Order to avoid her fear of the outside world. At the monastery of Compiègne, the Carmelite nuns attend to their daily duties and philosophise on themes of fear, faith and death. When the nuns are ordered by the government to abandon their way of life, they refuse, and all take the vow of martyrdom. Blanche is overwhelmed by her fear and flees the convent. The final scene is set at the place of execution in Paris, where the nuns calmly await their death. Singing “Salve Regina”, they are executed, one by one. As the last nun remains, Blanche reveals herself from out of the crowd and, facing her fears, she joins her sisters’ fate at the guillotine.

Director Bec Moret has designed an artful and authentic feeling production using the existing backdrop of the church at Pitt St, adding symbolic and practical elements to the staging. Music Director Joanna Drimatis leads an impressive orchestra, large principal cast and ensemble through Poulenc’s glorious, though poignant and haunting music. The opera will be sung in French with English translation subtitles.

Gente, Gente! is a Sydney-based, not-for-profit, grassroots opera company whose mission is to “produce quality shows that are accessible to the community, with a focus on programming less commonly performed works”. They aim to support and give opportunities to emerging artists and those from underrepresented and marginalised groups.



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