Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music and the department of drama, theatre and dance came together to put on a performance of Francis Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites,” from March 13 to 16 in the Goldstein Theatre.
The opera spanned three acts during a chaotic time in France.
The story follows Blanche, a young woman who wanted to join the order of the Carmelite nuns during the French Revolution. Blanche wants to live a heroic, disciplined life, but during that time, religious worship was dangerous in France.
She joins the order and is later paralyzed by fear of death, as many of the sisters want to become martyrs in testament to their religion. The opera ends with Blanche overcoming her fear as she sacrifices herself, along with her fellow nuns, for their religion.
Computers projected subtitles for the French language as to help the audience fully understand the dense plot.
The opera explicitly dealt with Blanche’s struggle to overcome her fear during a frightening time in France. However, several other themes filled the play. The opera explored religious persecution and political disruption as well.
“I thought it was inspirational. It really picked up after Act II when the politics got involved,” senior, Dannelly Rodriguez said.
The entire opera left a lasting impression on the audience. Others were more captivated by the religious aspects.
“The heavy religious commentary was really ahead of its time. Honestly impressive,” freshman, Zachary Tuimil said.
A large ensemble of performers alternated over four nights to put on consistently strong performances. The performers captured their characters’ emotions with ease as their voices echoed around the theater each night.
“The third act of the opera is so moving, even after playing through it five or six times. I still get choked up during the performance,” cello player, Nick Anton said.
The opera portrayed the story of the Carmelites and brought the Goldstein Theatre into the French Revolution.