Dialogues of the Carmelites photography by Mark Lyons.

Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM completes its record-breaking Mainstage Season with the intensely psychological journey encapsulated in Francis Poulenc’s gripping opera Dialogues of the Carmelites (Dialogues des carmélites). Based on a true story, this heartbreaking saga of martyred nuns runs from May 12-15, 2011 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium on the University of Cincinnati campus. Learn more about the opera after the jump.

Written over a four-year period and completed in 1957, Dialogues of the Carmelites follows the life of Blanche de la Force, a shy, aristocratic young woman who seeks refuge in a Carmelite nunnery during the French Revolution. The opera is based on the true account of the Martyrs of Compiègne, a group of 16 Carmelite nuns who were sent to their deaths during the Reign of Terror following the overthrow of the French monarchy.

Director Steven Goldstein recognizes the beauty of these nuns’ tale. “The simplicity of the story is what’s gripping in the end. The storytelling Poulenc accomplishes draws an audience into the tragic story of how innocents were slaughtered for their pure beliefs, and how in that process grace is achieved,” explains Goldstein. He also feels that the basis of the plotline on a true event also reveals a lesson on humanity. “Unfortunately, events such as this are repetitive historically, even to our days today. Dialogues of the Carmelites shows how a society can lose its moral center and become vicious.”

Danielle Messina, a second-year graduate student from Poughkeepsie, New York, plays Blanche in CCM’s production. She too sees the unique simplicity of Poulenc’s opera. “The fact that the opera is different from other operas is reflected in the name- Dialogues of the Carmelites. I think of Mozart operas where we have these great duets and great arias, but the music of Dialogues is a different take on opera. We’re not singing duets- we’re talking, sometimes giving monologues- and because of that, there’s a lot of listening involved. We’re trying to find this stoic, cloistered life not only in the plotline, but in the music as well.”

Poulenc, a deeply religious man, suffered a nervous breakdown during the period of the opera’s composition, reputedly from his deep connection to and empathy for the characters. Although the opera was originally written in French, the universal and touching themes of Dialogues of the Carmelites were so important to the composer that he requested that the piece always be performed in the language of the audience for which it was being played, and as such, CCM will present it in English with supertitles.

Performance Dates
May 12-15, 2011

  • Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 12-14, 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 15, 2:30 p.m.

Corbett Auditorium

$27-$29, $17-$19 students

Ordering or Additional Information
Box Office: 513-556-4183 or boxoff@uc.edu

Dialogues of the Carmelites Cast List:

  • Marquis de la Force: Jonathan Stinson* & Hunter Enoch~
  • Chevalier de la Force: Andrew Penning* & Daniel Ross~
  • Blanche de la Force: Danielle Messina* & Abigail Paschke~
  • Thierry, the valet: Chance Eakin
  • Madame de Croissy: Brandi Samuel* & Jill Phillips~
  • Sister Constance: Kelly Ballou* & Melissa Harvey~
  • Mother Marie: Deborah Nansteel* & Leah DeGruyl~
  • M. Javelinot: Joseph Lattanzi
  • Madame Lidoine: Amanda Woodbury* & Jenna Schroer~
  • Mother Jeanne: Esther Kang
  • Sister Mathilde: Simone McGaw
  • Chaplain: Marco Cammarota
  • First commissioner: David Ekström
  • Second commissioner: John McCarthy
  • Officer: Joseph Lattanzi
  • Jailer: Tyler Alessi
  • Mother Gerald: Cameron Bowers
  • Sister Claire: Katherine Wakefield
  • Sister Antoine: Stephanie Shoenhofer
  • Sister Catherine: Chelsea Major
  • Sister Felicity: YoonGeong Lee
  • Sister Gertrude: Alexandra Kassouf
  • Sister Alice: Fotina Naumenko
  • Sister Valentine: Claire Hudkins
  • Sister Anne of the Cross: Jennifer Cherest
  • Sister Martha: Sakhina A. Davis
  • Sister St. Charles: Kathryn Zajac

*Thursday, May 12 and Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m.
~Friday, May 13, 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 15, 2:30 p.m.

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

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