Poulenc: Dialogues of the Carmelites
The Martyrs of Compiègne, Carmelite nuns, are caught in the closing days of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. In 1794 they were guillotined in Paris for refusing to renounce their vocation. Blanche de la Force is an aristocratic novice who flees her convent when it is desecrated, only to return and join her fellow nuns as they are led to their execution.
NEC's Opera Studies Department recorded this production in NEC's Plimpton Shattuck Black Box Theatre with piano accompaniment.
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June 23 cast
MADAME DE CROISSY
Chihiro Asano, Marina Beeson, Brittany Bryant, Marissa Fieland,
Molly Flynn, Lauren Guthridge, Emma Robertson, Katherine Skafidas, Huanhuan Xie
The Chevalier expresses his concern for his sister to their father, the Marquis. The Marquis does not share his concern that she is deeply troubled. Blanche returns, shaken, after encountering rioting peasants. She confesses to her Father the desire to enter the order of the Carmelites and become a nun.
Blanche has an interview with Madame de Croissy, who is herself in worsening physical condition. She eagerly accepts the harsh conditions described by the old prioress.
Blanche and Constance discuss death. Her easy manner and seeming immaturity, increases Blanche’s fear and confusion.
Madame de Croissy’s condition worsens, and she charges Mère Marie with guiding Blanche. Blanche, much to Mère Marie’s disapproval, visits the ailing old Prioress. She confesses confusion and anger with God as Blanche witnesses her admission of fear before she dies.
Blanche, left alone with the body of the dead Prioress, lets her fear surface. Mère Marie, despite herself, offers her solace.
Constance suggests that God has made a mistake giving Madame de Croissy such a painful and undignified death. It must have been meant for someone else.
The new prioress, Madame Lidoine, gives her first address to the nuns. She is awkward and nervous relying on Mère Marie to help her. Mère Marie, bitter not to have been chosen to be the new Prioress, does her best to bring a semblance of order to the convent.
Against Mère Marie’s wishes, Madame Lidoine makes an exception and allows the Chevalier an audience with his sister, Blanche.
Blanche, desperate for validation and acceptance, fights to be understood. The Chevalier tries to explain the danger she will face if she remains in the convent. He urgently tries to get her to leave. Blanche finds the dignity and strength to resist. She begs for acceptance.
The Sacristan completes his last mass before escaping the encroaching revolution. Mère Marie and Madame Lidoine disagree on the subjects of Martyrdom. The Sacristan is too late and returns, the revolution is banging on the door of the convent. The nuns face expulsion and are forced to leave. General confusion spreads and fear grips Blanche.
The nuns take the vow of martyrdom. Blanche, overwhelmed with fear, flees.
The nuns are given new rules to survive in the new world. The animosity between Mère Marie and Madame Lidoine deepens.
Blanche has returned to her family home, where she is now a servant to the new occupants. Mère Marie tries to save Blanche.
The nuns are in jail and Madame Lidoine does her best to bring calm. The jailor delivers their sentence: death by guillotine.
The Sacristan informs Mère Marie that the nuns have been condemned. She suffers overwhelming guilt and the sacristan does his best to help her conscience.
The nuns are executed, and Blanche finds her way back and finally finds resolution.
ERICA BROOKHYSER, Madame de Croissy - Guest Artist
Erica Brookhyser has emerged as a formidable mezzo-soprano in the lyric and now the dramatic repertories. Her interpretations of Brangäne, Carmen, Didon, Preziosilla, Suzuki, Waltraute, Wellgunde, and Zweite Norn have garnered excellent notices in Europe and the United States.
Her notable recent performances include her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in La Traviata, a fully-staged El Niño at Spoleto Festival USA, as well as and Madama Butterfly (Suzuki) with Opera Colorado, Die Tote Stadt (Brigitta) with Odyssey Opera, and her return to Los Angeles Opera as Meg Page in Falstaff.
As principle mezzo-soprano in the Staatstheater Darmstadt ensemble, Ms. Brookhyser’s repertoire included the lyric roles of Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Muse-Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Fenena in Nabucco, Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice, Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana as well as the aforementioned dramatic roles of Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde), Carmen (Carmen), Didon (Les Troyens), Preziosilla (La Forza del Destino), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Waltraute (Wellgunde) and Zweite Norn (Der Ring des Nibelungen). She has also appeared as Carmen with Theater Erfurt and Seefestspiele Berlin, and as Wellgunde at Nationaltheater Mannheim.
Ms. Brookhyser was the 2012 winner of ARTE-TV “Open Opera: Who will become Carmen?”–a talent-search television show that aired in France and Germany, which resulted in her performing the title role of Carmen for a live televised broadcast from Berlin. She has received other honors including Semifinalist at the Operalia Competition, First Place Northwest Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a Sullivan Foundation Career Grant, and NEC’s John Moriarty Presidential Scholarship.
Ms. Brookhyser made her professional debut as Myrtale (Thaïs) with Boston Lyric Opera while still a master’s student at New England Conservatory. She apprenticed with Utah Opera, Central City Opera, Tanglewood Music Center, Santa Fe Opera, and with the Plácido Domingo Young Artist Program at Los Angeles Opera where her mainstage roles included Waltraute (Die Walküre), Mercedes (Carmen), Kate Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), Annina (La Traviata), and the Mother (Die Gezeichneten).
JOSHUA MAJOR, Stage Director
Toronto-born Joshua Major began his opera stage directing career at the age of 23 with La Cenerentola for Opera Omaha. Soon after, Mr. Major worked as an assistant at the Welsh National Opera, to Rhoda Levine at Juilliard, and to Cynthia Auerbach at both Chautauqua Opera and the New York City Opera. Mr. Major has worked as a stage director for over 35 years throughout the United States and Canada developing an impressive and diverse repertoire of productions. Recent productions include Falstaff (Verdi) Postcard From Morocco (Argento), La Bohème (Leoncavallo), L’assedio de Calais (Donizetti), Cendrillon (Massenet), Ezio (Gluck), Sir John in Love (Vaughan Williams), Romeo and Juliet (Gounod), Later The Same Evening (Musto), Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica (Puccini), The Medium (Menotti), Un giorno di Regno (Verdi), Die Fledermaus (Strauss), the North American premiere of Rossini's La Gazzetta, The Consul (Menotti), The Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček), Lucia di Lamermoor (Donizetti), The Turn of the Screw (Britten), Les mamelles de Tirésias (Poulenc), L'Impressions de Pelléas (Brook/Debussy), L’Enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel), and La tragédie de Carmen (Brook/Bizet). Mr.Major has worked for numerous companies including Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Wolf Trap Opera, Central City Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Cape Town Opera, Opera Omaha and Odyssey Opera. In August 2012 Mr. Major began as Chair of Opera Studies at New England Conservatory in Boston after completing 20 years on the faculty of the University of Michigan where he oversaw the Opera Program, both teaching and directing. Productions at the University of Michigan include Falstaff, Armide, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Eugene Onegin. From 2003-2014 Joshua Major was the Artistic Director of the Pine Mountain Music Festival, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the shores of Lake Superior where he produced over 300 concerts of opera, symphony and chamber music. He continues to be a stage director and faculty member with the International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv, Montreal, New York) where he has directed annually since 1993. Upcoming productions include Falstaff with the Berkshire Opera Festival.
MICHAEL STRAUSS Musical Preparation and Piano
For the past twenty-seven years, Mr. Strauss has been active in and around the Boston area as a performer, accompanist, conductor, and vocal coach. He has recorded with various chamber music ensembles for WGBH radio. He has also toured with The Boston Music Theater featuring American music in Brussels in 1999 for the 50th anniversary of NATO and in 2001 in both Paris and Brussels. In July 2002 he toured with the same group in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which included a performance at Rachmaninov Hall in the Moscow Conservatory.
Mr. Strauss is currently an opera coach and lecturer for the department of opera studies at New England Conservatory. In addition, he is a Professor on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory where he teaches and performs regularly in the Faculty series.
From 2011 to 2017, Mr. Strauss was the music director of the International Performing Arts Institute, which convenes every summer in Bavaria, Germany. Last summer he served on the faculty of Opera Viva in Verona, Italy.
ERICA J. WASHBURN, Choral Preparation
Conductor and mezzo-soprano Erica J. Washburn has been Director of Choral Activities at New England Conservatory since 2009. Known for her student-centric approach to classroom and rehearsal instruction, and commitment to the performance of new music, she is the recipient of several outstanding alumni awards, including the distinguished honor of induction to the Westminster Choir College Music Education Hall of Fame.
As a conductor, Washburn has worked with Kansas City, MO based Cardinalis, the Yale Schola Cantorum, the East Carolina University Women’s Chorale, and the Eastman Women’s Chorus. She is a sought-after guest clinician who frequently leads state and regional festival choruses, and spent five summers as a conductor and voice faculty member for the New York State Summer School of the Arts School of Choral Studies.
Under her direction the NEC choirs have been featured on several live and pre-recorded broadcasts, including the North Carolina based station WCPE Great Sacred Music, WICN Public Radio, and WGBH Boston. The choirs can also be heard in collaboration with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project on the BMOP/Sound recording Paul Moravec: The Blizzard Voices.
Washburn’s stage credits include appearances as Madame Lidoine in Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, Rebecca Nurse in Robert Ward’s The Crucible, Mother/Allison in the premiere of Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking and others. Her recital and orchestral solo credits are numerous, and her live premiere from Jordan Hall of the late Richard Toensing’s Night Songs and Evening Prayers can be heard on Albany Records, with the New England Conservatory Symphonic Winds.
DANIEL WYNEKEN, Musical Preparation and Piano
Daniel Wyneken has been a vocal coach in the NEC opera department since 1989 and serves as chorus master for the department's mainstage productions. He is music director of the department's outreach efforts into the Boston schools and is music director of NEC's summer session Opera Studio. He has worked at several regional opera companies, including Central City Opera, Opera Omaha, Syracuse Opera, and Opera on the James (Lynchburg, Virginia). He has taught diction at both The Boston Conservatory and New England Conservatory. He has been a frequent collaborator in chamber music recitals in the Boston and Baltimore areas.
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ABOUT THE CAST
(in alphabetical order)
MATTHEW CHRISTOPHER, Jailor, Second Commissioner, First Officer
Matthew Christopher, baritone, is a first-year MM student in Vocal Performance and studies with Michael Meraw.
JOSAPHAT CONTRERAS, First Commissioner, Thierry
First generation Mexican-American tenor Josaphat Contreras is a native of Houston, Texas who completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal Music from Sam Houston State University under the tulegage of Michael Walsh. During his time at Sam Houston state, he performed the title role in Orpheus in the Underworld, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Alfredo in Die Fledermaus. Josaphat has been accepted to international summer programs most notably in Salzburg, Austria and Bogota, Colombia. Josaphat has sung major works such as Goodall’s Eternal Light: A Requiem, Bruckner’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Saint-Saëns’ Christmas oratorio.
Josaphat has been a national semi-finalist for the NY lyric Competition in New York City and was a first place winner in the Greater Houston NATS Graduate division category. After graduation, Josaphat worked as a voice teacher and high school choir director at Andy Dekaney High School in Spring, Texas for 3 years. Since moving to Boston, MA, Josaphat has performed as a soloist for Choral Art Society of South Shore, Cape Cod Chorale, and performed with Odyssey Opera, as well as singing the lead tenor role in Amahl in the Night Visitors. In the spring of 2021, Josaphat will be appearing in Opera NexGen’s inaugural production of Cosi Fan Tutte as Ferrando (cover). Josaphat was recently accepted to the Vincero Academy for their role study production of Don Giovanni for the role of Don Ottavio.
Currently, Josaphat serves as a voice teacher for Boston Children’s Chorus The Studio at BCC, sings with Boston-based choral ensemble Voices21C, and is the vocal coach/teacher for the Boston Saengerfest Chorus. As an arts administrator, Josaphat is currently the Program Coordinator at North End Music & Performing Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. This past fall, Josaphat started his master of music degree in Vocal Pedagogy at New England Conservatory.
When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife Amanda Contreras and their two dogs, Rufus and Delilah.
JULIETTE KAOUDJI, Mère Jeanne
Mezzo-soprano Juliette Kaoudji is a first year MM student in Vocal Performance and studies with Carole Haber.
ANTHONY LEÓN, Chevalier
American born, Cuban and Colombian tenor, Anthony León, holds a Bachelor of Music degree concentrating in vocal performance from La Sierra University in Riverside, California, studying under Javier Gonzalez. He currently studies voice under Bradley Williams, pursuing a master’s degree in Vocal Performance at New England Conservatory. Anthony has starred in fully staged leading roles such as Mr. Owen in Postcard from Morocco, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Tamino in The Magic Flute, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, and Frederic, in the operetta, The Pirates of Penzance at La Sierra University. Anthony loves many facets of music and has also taken up composing along with his other endeavors. The American premiere of his piece, Tus Ojos, was performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City along with the La Sierra University Wind Ensemble in 2018. Most recent honors include selection as a winner for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Los Angeles District, being named “Best up-and-comer” in the Inland Empire Magazine’s “Best of the Best 2019” list and the Wendy Shattuck ‘75 Presidential Scholarship for Vocal Studies. In 2018, he was chosen as a finalist for the Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competi-tion. He has also won the 2018 Grand Prize, the Spetch-Guy award, for the 60th Annual Concerto Competition at La Sierra University and second place for the Classical Singer Convention National Competition. Other notable honors that Anthony has received include first place in the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, selection as a first prize winner for the Redlands Bowl Young Artist Competition, first prize in the 2016 Marguerite Marsh Vocal Competition, first prize for the 2016 Raincross Chorale Competition, and third prize in the 2015 Promising Young Artist Scholarship Competition Recital.
MARGARET MALONE, Madame Lidoine
Margaret Malone is currently a first year master’s student at New England Conservatory, studying Vocal Performance with Karen Holvik. She is a native of Paducah, Kentucky and a University of Kentucky alumna where she received her BM in Vocal Performance (2020). She is a first-place NATS Winner, an alumna of Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts for Vocal Music (2014) and an alumna of the Musik Theater Bavaria Opera Studio in Oberaudorf, Germany (2017). She has previously appeared with University of Kentucky Opera Theater in Gianni Schicchi (La Ciesca), Suor Angelica (Una Conversa), Madame Butterfly (Suzuki), Silent Night (Madeline Audebert – Cover), La Traviata (Chorus), Celebration of Song and It’s a Grand Night for Singing! Ms. Malone is so thrilled to be joining the family here at NEC. She would like to thank her friends, family, G1’s and a special thank you to Karen Holvik for your constant support and guidance. Glory be to God!
ANA MORA, Mère Marie
Ana Mora ’21 Graduate Diploma, soprano, is a student of Karen Holvik.
SAMUEL ROSNER, L’Aumonier
Samuel Rosner is a tenor and composer, studying Linguistics and Vocal Performance in the Harvard College / New England Conservatory Dual Degree Program. Samuel’s previous opera roles include Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Le Prince Charmant (Cendrillon), Alfred (Die Fledermaus), Évandre (Alceste), as well as Tom Rakewell in selections from The Rake’s Progress. In his concert repertoire, Samuel has sung the tenor solos in Bach’s Mass in B minor, Handel’s Messiah, Shostakovich’s From Jewish Folk Poetry, and Bach’s BWV 61 cantata under the baton of John Harbison. This summer, Samuel will be a Young Artist at Opera Neo, where he will be performing Don Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro, as well as various arias with orchestra and opera
scenes. Previously, Samuel studied at Juilliard’s Pre-College program, and was a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus.
As a composer, Samuel has written vocal, instrumental, chamber, choral, and electroacoustic works, as well as numerous film scores. His compositions have been premiered at venues such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Juilliard, and performed throughout the U.S., as well as in France, Austria, Canada, and Israel. Samuel also performed his own settings of Hebrew Holocaust poems by Hannah Szenes on NPR’s From the Top, and most recently, his film score for Jeff Liu’s ‘After Life’ was screened for the film festival IFFBoston, a festival which has previously screened Oscar-winning films such as Moonlight and Parasite. Samuel has received composition awards from the ASCAP Foundation’s Irving Caesar Fund, and from the Vancouver Chamber Choir.
ANDREW STACK, Marquis/Dr. Javelinot
Baritone Andrew Stack (is a first-year Graduate Diploma student at New England Conservatory, studying under the tutelage of Michael Meraw. Originally from Manhasset, NY, Stack recently earned his master’s degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with Patricia Havranek, and his bachelor’s degree from Westminster Choir College as a student of Lindsey Christiansen. Stack made his professional debut in the Spoleto Festival USA production of Eugene Onegin as Zaretsky in 2017. While at Indiana University, Stack was seen in performances of Stephen Paulus’ The Three Hermits as the Bishop, as well as in IU Opera Theater’s production of La Traviata as Barone Duophol. Additional roles include Malatesta in scenes from Don Pasquale (NEC Opera Theater), Starveling in Midsummer Night’s Dream (Vaness Opera Workshop), Private Willis in Iolanthe (Westminster Undergraduate Opera), and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte (Westminster Undergraduate Opera Workshop.)
Stack is also a passionate Art Song and new music advocate, having collaborated with some of the foremost living composers, including Libby Larsen and Jake Heggie. He has performed the North American premier of Sven-David Sandström’s symphonic work Uppbrott and has sung in masterclasses for Dalton Baldwin at the Mozarteum in Salzburg as well as for Thomas Hampson. Most recently, he has been featured in four of this past year’s Liederabend concerts as part of New England Conservatory’s new SongLab curriculum.
LIZZY STANT, Soeur Mathilde
Soprano Lizzy Stant, from Dover, Delaware, graduated with her Master of Music degree in Voice from NEC in 2021, studying under Jane Eaglen. Her staged performances include opera, chamber works, and new music. Most recently in NEC's scenes programs, she sang the roles of Eurydice in Gluck's Orfeo, Dorine in Mechem's Tartuffe, and the Narrator in Lili Tobias' The Yellow Wallpaper,. In the past year, she premiered new works by Thomas Whitman, Ian Weise, and Lili Tobias, as well as performed in a voice/guitar due chamber group. This summer Lizzy will make her role debut as Le Feu and Le Rossignol in Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges with Spotlight on Opera and will cover the role of Rosina in Rossini' Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Steamboat. She can also be seen in the upcoming virtual Boston Early Music festival singing soprano in selections from the comedy madrigal L'amfiparnaso by Vecchi. In addition to singing, Lizzy is a voice teacher in the Boston area and a certified group fitness instructor.
RAJI VENKAT, Constance
Raji Venkat, soprano from the greater Atlanta area, is a current master’s student at New England Conservatory, where she studies with Carole Haber. Her stage performance includes opera, concert works, Indian classical dance and Carnatic music. At NEC, Raji has sung in La Callisto as a Fury and participated in the Handel scenes program. Past roles include Pamina in The Magic Flute and Barbarina in Marriage of Figaro with Augusta University. Raji has won AU’s concerto competition, the Lucie C. Ruzieka award, and has been a consistent finalist in Southeastern Regional NATS.
Alongside studying opera, Raji has a passion for classical Indian dance and music, as well as world peace movements. Combining both worlds, Raji has participated in many nonprofits including the Sathya Sai International Organization, where she performed oratorio works and danced for a WPM in Croatia, as well as in Anaheim, CA.
In addition to her operatic studies, Raji is pursuing her second degree at Rutgers University for Business in Marketing and Supply Chain Technology. Raji is also the current artistic director of her dance company, Natyadhaara, and has been praised by the acclaimed dance director and composer Madurai R. Muralidharan for her down to earth and comedic acting in dance dramas. Her recent roles include Muralidha-ran’s own 7th King in Kadai Ezhu Vallagal in 2019. Raji has also performed her own Indian operatic compositions for several cultural festivals.
In the summer of 2018, Raji traveled to Shanghai, China to exchange perfor-mance and cultural knowledge with the Confucius Institute. She has also performed with Music Academy International in Trento, Italy. Raji received her bachelor degree in Vocal Performance at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.
ANGELA YAM, Blanche
Boston-based soprano Angela Yam is a performer whose repertoire ranges from opera to oratorio to avant-garde chamber music. She joins Santa Fe Opera in 2021 to perform the roles of Cobweb in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Agave (cover) in the world premiere of John Corigliano’s Lord of Cries. Originally from Sacramento, CA, Angela has appeared as Mary Crawford in Dove's Mansfield Park with Opera Modesto and as the soprano soloist for Bach's Magnificat and Handel's Messiah with Camerata California. While completing her Graduate Diploma at New England Conservatory (2021), Angela has performed as the Coloratura Soprano in Argento's Postcard from Morocco, the titular role in Cavalli's La Calisto, and as the soprano soloist in Haydn's Die Schöpfung. In her spare time, she enjoys roller-skating and playing the baritone saxophone.
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The Martyrs of Compiègne, Carmelite nuns, are caught in the closing days of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. In 1794 they were guillotined in Paris for refusing to renounce their...