Poulenc: Dialogues of the Carmelites (In English) - Harper, J. Sinclair, Fisher, Jones; Davies. London, 1966
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This is a fascinating document. Dialogues of the Carmelites was only six years old when this performance took place but already becoming known to the operatic world. The London premiere had already happened a year after the World Premiere making this a revival. What one witnesses from this performance is an opera whose voice and performance practice is starting to coalesce. Sung in English as per Poulenc's wish for the opera to be performed in the vernacular, this performance features the great Heather Harper in the lead role of Blanche. She sings with luscious tones as well as crystal clear diction. Joan Carlyle assumes the part of Mme. Lidoine. Her voice lacks the gravitas of Régine Crespin and Leyla Gencer. Perhaps whoever cast this part wanted to have a more youthful voice. Sylvia Fisher is an exciting Mere Marie, full of fire and brimstone (that said she is quite moving in her last scene where she learns that she will not join her sisters in martyrdom.) Jeanette Sinclair is also a standout as Constance. And there is a cameo by a very young Gwyneth Jones as Sister Mathilde. The sound is fair. Occasionally the words are lost due to the slightly muffled quality of the recording.
Excerpts from the World Premiere of Dialogues of the Carmelites in Italian featuring Zeani, Gencer, Frazzoni, Pederzini & Ratti
La Scala, 1957