Monday, 2 June 2014

Rattle conducts Poulenc Dialogues des Carmélites, Royal Opera House

Claire Seymour's review of Poulenc, Dialogues des Carmélites, at the Royal Opera House. London. Read the whole piece HERE in Opera Today.

"A black bare stage heaving with a rebellious revolutionary throng; they stare with still hostility directly at the audience, stark light streaming from above. A scene from Boublil’s and Schönberg’s Les Misérables? No. The opening moments of Robert Carsen’s much-acclaimed production of Poulenc’s opera of courage, cruelty and redemption."

"Rattle clearly knows and loves this score: the brass play with purity and restraint in the chorale-like passages, and Rattle creates an iridescent sound-world in which glistening harps ripple and luscious strings surge in rapture, coloured by silky woodwind slithers, but one which is also ominously punctuated by shuddering, jagged rhythmic bursts of terror and brutality. The percussive slashes of the final march to the scaffold reveal the full unleashed force of the Royal Opera House Orchestra. Yet, despite Rattle’s care and attention - and Carsen’s imaginative faithfulness to the composer’s reputed preference for stagings which adopt a monastic austerity - there is no getting away from the fact that the score is dominated by an ever-repeating two-bar progression, in various harmonic inversions and timbral colourings, an infinite chain which becomes increasingly more wearisome and which makes it difficult to establish and sustain any driving musico-dramatic direction. Typical of the nature of Poulenc’s idiom is the terrifyingly moving final scene, which is underpinned by a rocking minor third; it is the raw rip of the slicing guillotine which provides the drama, rather than any harmonic conflict."

My piece on Olivier Py's 2013  production from Paris with Pétibon, Piau,, Koch, Gens, Lehtipuu etc is HERE

photos: Stephen Cummiskey 2014 courtesy Royal Opera House

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