Dialogues of the Carmelites (1957)

Genres - Music, Theater  |   Sub-Genres - Opera  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |  
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The last of five full-length operatic performances to be telecast by NBC during the calendar year 1957, this NBC Opera Company presentation was also the first American staging of Francis Poulenc's then-new work, Dialogues of the Carmelites. Set during the French Revolution, the story centers upon Blanche, the daughter of the aristocratic Marquis de la Force. Fleeing the wrath of the rebels, Blanche takes refuge in a convent run by Carmelite nuns. Deciding to devote her life to God, Blanche willingly undergoes the rigors and disciplines of her new life--only to have that life, and the lives of all the other nuns, placed in jeopardy when the rebels catch up with her. The production is capped by the harrowing "martyrdom" finale, in which the voice of each nun is abruptly silenced, one after another, by the sound of the headsman's axe. The great Leontyne Price heads the cast as Mme. Lidoine, with Elaine Malbin as Blanche and Patricia Neway as the Mother Superior.