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Hedwig Fassbender, Patricia Petibon, Valerie Millot
Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmelites (DVD)
Actors : Anne-Sophie Schmidt, Valérie Millot, Nadine Denize, Patricia Petibon, Hedwig Fassbender
Subtitles: : English, German, Dutch
Poulenc's late pious works for voice share the sprightliness of his early secular orchestral and chamber pieces; this is perhaps especially true of his 1952 work of devotion and martyrdom. Young aristocrat Blanche seeks refuge in the cloister from her fear of death only to find the Carmelites she joins the object of persecution by the Jacobin Revolution; she flees, but then comes back to share her sisters' death--a powerful scene in which a hymn is stripped down a voice at a time, and finally silenced when Blanche joins them on the guillotine. Anne Sophie Schmidt as Blanche is convincing both in her terror and her resignation; Patricia Petibon is delightful as her closest friend, the lively young nun Constance to whom fear is never especially an issue and who has sought death cheerfully from the start, praying that the dying Prioress might be saved and she taken in her place. The older women--the two Prioresses and Mere Marie who persuades the nuns to refuse compromise--are equally fine in their graver music.