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 24 Cast

Michaela Kelly

Sara Buggy

Erica Brookhyser

Allyson Bennett

Darby Clinard

Juliette Kaoudji

Lizzy Stant

Andrew Stack

Samuel Rosner

Philippe L’Esperance

Matthew Christopher



Josaphat Contreras

BLANCHE

CONSTANCE

MADAME DE CROISSY

MADAME LIDOINE

MÈRE MARIE

MÈRE JEANNE

SOEUR MATHILDE

MARQUIS/DR. JAVELINOT

CHEVALIER

L’AUMONIER

JAILOR/
2ND COMMISSIONER/
1ST OFFICER

1ST COMMISSIONER/
THIERRY

NUNS

Chihiro Asano, Marina Beeson, Brittany Bryant, Marissa Fieland,
Molly Flynn,
Lauren Guthridge, Emma Robertson, Katherine Skafidas, Huanhuan Xie

Synopsis

Scene 1
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.

Scene 2
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.

Scene 3
Blanche and Constance discuss death. Her easy manner and seeming immaturity, increases Blanche’s fear and confusion.

Scene 4
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.

Scene 5
Blanche, left alone with the body of the dead Prioress, lets her fear surface. Mère Marie, despite herself, offers her solace.

Scene 6
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.

Scene 7
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.

Scene 8
Against Mère Marie’s wishes, Madame Lidoine makes an exception and allows the Chevalier an audience with his sister, Blanche.

Scene 9
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.

Scene 10
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.

Scene 11
The nuns take the vow of martyrdom. Blanche, overwhelmed with fear, flees.

Scene 12
The nuns are given new rules to survive in the new world. The animosity between Mère Marie and Madame Lidoine deepens.

Scene 13
Blanche has returned to her family home, where she is now a servant to the new occupants. Mère Marie tries to save Blanche.

Scene 14
The nuns are in jail and Madame Lidoine does her best to bring calm. The jailor delivers their sentence: death by guillotine.

Scene 15
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.

Scene 16
The nuns are executed, and Blanche finds her way back and finally finds resolution.
 

Artist Bios

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 withLa Cenerentolafor 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 GazzettaThe 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),andLa tragédie de Carmen(Brook/Bizet).Mr.Major has worked for numerous companies includingOpera 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 includeFalstaff,Armide,A Midsummer Night’s Dream, andEugene 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 Falstaffwith 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.

BALLSQUARE FILMS

BallSquare Films is a Jamaica Plain based video production company specializing in documentary for the performing arts. Clients include Blue Heron, Boston Baroque, Boston Early Music Festival, Handel and Haydn Society, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Odyssey Opera and more.

ABOUT THE CAST
(in alphabetical order)

ALLYSON BENNETT, Madame Lidoine

Allyson Bennett is an American soprano studying under Jane Eaglen at New England Conservatory pursuing an M.M. Vocal Performance degree.  Based in Boston, she is classical vocalist with a passion for operatic and song repertoire. In addition to Dialogues of the Carmelites, her projects this spring included the premiere of Flora Sun’s new work “難波津に (Naniwa-zu ni)”. Her NEC performances in 2020 ranged from Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème, a Jordan Hall appearance with NEC’s Wind Ensemble in Dvořák’s Song to the Moon, and Richard Strauss songs in the Liederabend series. Her other 2020 concert appearances included NEMPAC's Opera from the Balcony and a benefit recital with Sparrow Live, raising money for the family of Breonna Taylor. Modern Singer Magazine interviewed her that year for an Artist Feature. Her competition experience won her First Place for Rising Talents of the Americas 2020 with GCC, and she was named a Qualifying Singer by the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition in 2020.
        In 2019, Allyson performed Valletto in L’incoronazione di Poppea at NEC as well as concert appearances in other school-wide series. Overseas in Graz, Austria, Allyson participated in the American Institute of Musical Studies and sang in the Artists in Residence concert series. NYC performances feature her as an auditing cover of Meg Page in Martina Arroyo's Prelude to Performance's Verdi’s Falstaff. Allyson earned her B.M. degree from NEC in Vocal Performance minoring in German.


SARA BUGGY, Constance

Sara Buggy ’21 MM, soprano, is a student of Jane Eaglen.

MATTHEW CHRISTOPHER, Jailor, Second Commissioner, First Officer 

Matthew Christopher, baritone, is a first-year MM student in Vocal Performance and studies with Michael Meraw.


DARBY CLINARD, Mère Marie

Mezzo-soprano Darby Clinard is a first year master’s student here at New England Conservatory, studying Vocal Performance with Karen Holvik. She is originally from Northern Virginia and received her BM in Vocal Performance from James Madison University. Darby has previously appeared in James Madison University Opera Theatre productions of Dead Man Walking (Sister Helen), and Così Fan Tutte  (Dorabella). Ms. Clinard is so excited to be joining the wonderful company and faculty here at New England Conservatory. She would like to thank her family, friends, and professors for all their support. 


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
        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.


MICHAELA KELLY, Blanche

Michaela Kelly, soprano, is a second-year master’s student studying vocal pedagogy. Michaela has sung Romilda in Handel’sXerxesand Susanna in Mozart’sLe nozze di Figarofor NEC’s graduate fall opera scenes. In the fall semester, she performed at two Liederabend recitals at NEC. Last spring, she performed as a soprano soloist inDie Schöpfungwith NEC chorus and orchestra in Jordan Hall.Michaela has performed with North Carolina Opera and Greensboro Opera Company. She has sung at Curtis Summer Festival and as an apprentice with Berkshire Choral Festival. Michaela has performed as a soloist in Mozart’sVesperae solemnes de confessore,Bob Chilcott’sSt. John Passion, Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël. Before beginning her master’s degree, Michaela was a middle school chorus teacher in Orange County, North Carolina. Currently, she is a musicianship teacher with the Handel and Haydn Society. She is an active guest presenter of her evidence-based workshop “Best Practices on Practice” at universities and public music programs across the country. Michaela holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Michaela is a student of Dr. Ian Howell at NEC. 

PHILIPPE L’ESPERANCE, L’Aumonier

Praised for his “agility, range, and pleasant timbre” (Opera News), tenor Philippe L’Esperance is the current Artist Diploma candidate in Opera at New England Conservatory and a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. At MSM, he was featured as Mathew in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline, Prince Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Sandor Barinkay in Johann Strauss’s Der Zigeunerbaron and Tito in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito. Philippe was a Gaddes Festival Artist and Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theater of St. Louis, where he appeared as Lucano in Monterverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, Giuseppe in Verdi’s La Traviata and as Jake in Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath. With the Chautauqua Institution’s Voice Program, he has appeared as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore, Prince Karl Franz in Romberg’s The Student Prince, and Peter Quint in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. This summer, Philippe was selected as a Young Artist with the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco where he will perform the role of Man with Old Luggage in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco. Recently, Philippe has appeared as a Young Artist with Palm Beach Opera, The Chatauqua Institution Voice Program, New York Festival of Song, and three summers with Opera Theater of St. Louis. He made his Carnegie Hall debut this past year as a soloist on Manhattan School of Music’s Centennial Gala.

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.

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. 

Licensing

by arrangement with Hendon Music, Inc., a Boosey & Hawkes company, Sole Agent in the U.S., Canada and Mexico for Casa Ricordi/Universal Music Publishing Ricordi S.R.L., publisher and copyright owner.

Artists
Angela Yam, Raji Venkat
Date

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...