Opera Program’s Latest is a Haunting Tale

November 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm Leave a comment

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The students in Penn State’s Opera Theatre program are staging a production of the tragedy Dialogues of the Carmelites tonight and tomorrow at University Park—and, if last night’s dress rehearsal is any indication, it’ll give you chills.

It’s a 1957 work by a French composer, Francis Poulenc, and is set in the bloody French Revolution of the late 1700s. Blanche, the central character, is an anxious, fearful young woman who becomes a Carmelite nun in hopes of feeling safer in life—and ends up being anything but. As Ted Christopher, the head of the opera theatre program, described it to me last night: “Blanche felt the world closing in on her, so she joined a convent … where she found the world closing in on her even more.”

Blanche’s character is fictional, but the larger story, the martyrdom of 16 Carmelite nuns in 1794, is not.

It’s a dark, intense, provocative production, and the final scene—the nuns singing as, one by one, they head off to their deaths—is incredibly moving.

Performances are at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow (Nov. 15 and 16) in the Esber Recital Hall, part of Music Building I. Tickets are $4.99 for the general public; students pay $2. More information is here, and some photos I took at last night’s dress rehearsal are below.

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Tina Hay, editor

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The Penn Stater Daily — Nov. 15, 2013 The Penn Stater Daily — Nov. 18, 2013

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