Poulenc: Dialogues of the Carmelites (In English) - Morison, Sutherland, Watson, Fisher, Veasey; Kubelik. London, 1959
Listen to a Sample:
This performance represents the premiere of Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites in English (following the composers' instructions that the opera always be presented in the local vernacular.) For the occasion Covent Garden arranged a strong cast of singers young and old, including a young, and still unknown, Joan Sutherland as Mme Lidoine. Poulenc's melodies are miles away from the world of bel canto, but Sutherland nonetheless makes a strong impression. Her voice possesses both an angelic innocence and an imposing command which gives the part of the second prioress vivid life. In the role of Blanche, Elsie Morison brings a lushness of tone and great diction conveying both the character's fears and strength beautifully. It is such a joy to hear Jeanette Sinclair as Sister Constance as her voice has a little more substance to it than the chirpy sopranos who are usually cast in this part. Other stand-outs include Sylvia Fisher as a formidable mother Marie, and Jean Watson as the Old Prioress. Rafael Kubelik does a masterful job of balancing the romanticism and restraint of this mystical opera. The sound is generally pretty good although in the third act just before the final scene there is a stretch of about thirty minutes where the sound is quite muffled.