27 May 2014 at 5.20pm | 2 Comments
‘I remember the very first time I saw it, I was crying so much I could hardly see the stage,’ reveals Simon Rattle. ‘I’ve always loved the Carmelites, It was always a favourite piece of mine. I’ve always wanted to do it.’
Audiences will soon have a chance to hear how the Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic - one of the best orchestras in the world - tackles the ‘serious subject’ of Francis Poulenc’s sublime opera.
From 29 May, for six performances only, Rattle will conduct Robert Carsen’s award-winning production of Dialogues des Carmélites in his much-awaited return to the Royal Opera House. It will be the very first time Rattle has conducted the piece.
Poulenc’s work is set during the violent upheaval of the French Revolution, and it is the finale in particular, when ‘basically the entire cast gets guillotined’, that the conductor believes is ‘one of the most terrifying in all opera’.
‘You see people [in the audience] actually crushing their programmes until they’re a kind of pulp or mulch by the end – just in shock! There’s nothing like it in opera.’
‘There are many ways in which you can do an opera about a Carmelite monastery and the French Revolution, [… but Carsen] has chosen to use very, very little scenery at all, and mostly this enormous crowd of people who are the scenery.
But does he think the audiences, especially first-time opera goers, will share his ‘love’ for Poulenc’s work? ‘Everybody should have the opportunity to see this, to see what it can add to their lives, and to see how it can change their lives,’ he replies. ’Film and theatre lovers should come and see this!’
Dialogues des Carmélites runs from 29 May–11 June 2014. Tickets are still available.
The production, originally from De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam, is given with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, The Taylor Family Foundation and The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.