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  • Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmelites [Blu-ray]
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Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmelites [Blu-ray]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Schone, Voulgaridou, Schukoff, Harries, Schwanewilms
  • Directors: Nikolaus Lenhoff
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: French (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Arthaus
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2010
  • Run Time: 166 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003E113HQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,121 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

The opera Dialogues of the Carmelites is the only opera the French composer
Francis Poulenc has ever written. It is based on the screenplay Die
begnadigte Angst by Georges Bernanos. The material for the opera is
based on actual historic events. Poulenc converges religion and revolution: The young Blanche de la Force who suffers from existential fear all life long, escapes into a convent hoping to conquer her paralyzing fear
of life and death. Even the walls of the convent cannot stop the French
Revolution. The nuns of the Carmelite Order fail to resist it and accept
to die in martyrdom. Fascinated by their constancy finally Blanche overcomes her angst and follows her sisters to the scaffold.
This dramatic opera in three acts had its debut performance at La Scala in Milan in 1957. With its religious theme this opera takes a special position in the theatre of music in the 20th century. Poulencs clear and insistent musical language is perfectly interpreted by conductor Simone Young and the Philharmoniker Hamburg. This production showcases big, vibrant voices from all age categories who are not only brilliant in singing but also in acting.
Besides the great musical performance, the main reason for the huge success of the opera is stage director Nikolaus Lehnhoff. His simplistic stage design together with the mystic light installation this opera guarantees great listening and also an amazing viewing pleasure.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 5 customer reviews
The resolution etc was fine but every so often one could see a mosquito net effect on the faces.
Mr. John A. Coulson
The production is minimalistic and, as such, very effective since the emphasis goes to the presentations of the characters and their perspectives on life and death.
A. Lupu
Every opera fan should give this opera a chance, and this production will do quite well, though I strongly prefer the Muti DVD.
D. Altschuler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Altschuler on August 2, 2010
Verified Purchase
I have more criticisms than the the Australian lead reviewer does, though this fine opera still makes a very good impression here. It is one of the few operas, or even dramas generally, that treat conventional religion maturely and respectfully. Every opera fan should give this opera a chance, and this production will do quite well, though I strongly prefer the Muti DVD.
There are no sets to speak of in this newer production, just lots of blue columns with some imaginative lighting. The only colors you will see anywhere for 166 minutes are blue, white, and grey. This suggests spirituality, possibly, but can be tiresome. The lack of sets, increasingly common in opera these days, screams low budget to me. While the column theme is made movingly clear at the final guillotine scene, it also tried my patience until then.
The final scenes with the 2nd Mother Superior encouraging her flock is very moving, with the nuns looking like prisoners, perhaps even of a Nazi concentration camp.
There is some miscasting, most of it not a deal breaker. Blanche (the lead character) is played by a good singer/actress who is clearly too old for role visually. The Father, on the other hand, looks far too young for his role. The only serious problem is Sister Maria, played by the appropriately named Gabrielle Schnaut. She looks unpleasant and sings even worse, with a strident Soviet-soprano-like tone that had me cringing when she opened her mouth. All other roles are played quite well, both musically and dramatically.
However, the Muti production on TDK is better, sometimes slightly and sometimes significantly so. Muti's Mother Superior is played by Anja Silja who, were this a movie rather than an opera, would be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 6, 2010
Francis Poulenc's 1957 opera, for which he both composed the music and wrote the libretto (from a play by Georges Bernanos), has many distinct and individualistic qualities that set it apart, not least of which is the unique subject matter of the execution of Carmelite nuns by French Revolutionaries in 1794. The treatment however is just as fascinating, the subject of death ominously present not only through the novice nun Blanche's pathological fear of death, through the suffering of ailing Mother Superior and the eventual martyrdom of the nuns, but also in the delicacy of the musical accompaniments that evoke an almost romantic relationship or fascination with the idea of death.

One other notable and unusual aspect of Dialogue des Carmélites is the dominance and importance of female voices, in recitative dialogue and in relation to one another. The opera really is a celebration of the female voice, ranging from soprano to mezzo-soprano and contralto, all used marvellously and, it has to be said, sung magnificently in this production. There are male roles in the opera and they are not insignificant, lending a welcome variety of colour and tone to the overpowering predominance of female singing that could otherwise become a little tiring at such length.

The staging of this Hamburg production is a masterpiece of the minimalist style, well suited to the dark subject matter and achieving incredible intensity and drama mainly from its use of light and shade and some subtle colouration. It's perhaps a little too intense and austere when the opera is more lyrically varied in its score and libretto, but it's true that the sense of death is omnipresent, the questions of faith and life discussed by the nuns all coloured by consideration of death.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. John A. Coulson on August 2, 2010
It is unusual for an opera to be so true to life as this one is - based on actual tragic events. The singing is very dramatic in keeping with Poulenc's glorious music and the staging is suitably simple, stark and effectively lit.

However the video was not up to the usual unblemished BD quality on the system used here (a Sony player into a recent model Sony 46" TV). The resolution etc was fine but every so often one could see a mosquito net effect on the faces. As this was so inconsistent and switched on and off inbetween shots I can only guess it was a fault in one camera and occurs in the master copy. A pity the production is blemished in this way. I doubt if that could be a fault in my equipment as it is the first time it has been observed.

Although this was composed in the 20th century it is not discordent and has some beautiful moments which can make the hair stand up on the back of the neck. But it might not be everyone's cup of tea, particularly if you are not a fan of the soprano voice because there is very little male singing in this work.

So, highly recommended, with a note of caution. The work itself, the audio quality and the artistry involved are first rate, but the faulty video can be distracting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Lupu VINE VOICE on March 19, 2012
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Although the plot is based on factual history, it is not the most important feature of the opera. The different perspectives on life are what matters. In fact, the only character that has any development through the opera is Blanche la Force. The other characters are what they are from beginning to end, and the music is what presents them best. The production is minimalistic and, as such, very effective since the emphasis goes to the presentations of the characters and their perspectives on life and death. There are hints that the production has been transposed from the French Revolution to the beginning of the Nazi domination in Germany, but it doesn't disturb at all, although I don't think it adds anything either.
The use of clever lightning feels the scenario in a very effective way. It allows the singers to sing, act and be the center of the attention. Poulenc's music is just magnificent. Most of the scenes are dialogues between two people. In fact, there are no duets at all. Various musical motives are brought with each one of the characters making it easier to capture their inner thoughts. The singers, with the exception of Gabriel Shnaut as Mother Marie are very good. The role of Mother Marie is a harsh and dogmatic one, but Shnaut made it very unpleasant to hear.
This production is staged in front of an audience. The TV filming has two main problems. The stage has a net in its front, most probably to make better light effects. When the singers approach it you can see the net and can be somehow disturbing in your TV screen.
On the last scene there are two lines of long rectangles, one for each nun. Each nun goes from the lighted one the front one that goes black once the guillotine comes down.
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