Poulenc’s opera on Seoul stage

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Poulenc’s opera on Seoul stage


The Korea National Opera, in collaboration with Institut Francais, a French cultural center based in Paris, presents “Dialogues of the Carmelites” from May 5 to 8 at the Seoul Arts Center. The leading role of Sister Blanche is played by Annick Massis, below. Provided by the Korea National Opera

The French Revolution is the backdrop of the Korea National Opera’s production of “Dialogues of the Carmelites,” a fictionalized retelling of the story of the Martyrs of Compiegne, 16 nuns who were guillotined amidst the political and religious strife in the country. The opera starts on Thursday and runs through May 8 at the Seoul Arts Center.

The opera by Francis Poulenc is based on a screenplay by Georges Bernanos, which was itself based on the novella “The Last on the Scaffold” by German writer Gertrud von Le Fort. Von Le Fort’s novel is a fictional account of historical events. The opera premiered at La Scala Theater in January 1957.

When the Bastille was attacked by revolutionaries in July 1789 at the start of the French Revolution, hatred toward the nobility and the church deepened amidst a growing atmosphere of inequality among the social classes.

Churches were closed in Paris, but because priests and nuns continued to pray, the revolutionaries began massacring them.

In the opera, Blanche de la Force, the daughter of a wealthy marquis, decides to enter a Carmelite convent over the objections of her father. Given the climate of fear and persecution in the country at the time, he is concerned for her safety.


Soon after her arrival at the convent, she receives an ominous sign in the form of the death of the mother superior, who expresses her fear for the safety of the remaining nuns in the abbey right before she dies.

Mother Marie, who has replaced the mother superior, encourages the nuns to become martyrs, and though she is afraid of death, Blanche finally submits to Marie’s wishes.

The most memorable scene comes toward the end, when the nuns are guillotined. The 14 women walk to the killing machine, singing the hymn “Salve Regina.” The sound of the blades coming down again and again, one time for each nun, strikes terror into the heart and stands in stark contrast to the ethereal harmonies of the nuns’ voices, which fade as they fall one by one until the only sound in the theater is the chilling swish of the metal blade.

The opera, presented by the Korea National Opera and Institut Francais, the French cultural center, features a group of French artists who will be in Seoul for the production, including the director and lead soprano.

“This is the story of a world that is changing and of ordinary people who suffer through the changes happening around them,” Stanislas Nordey, the director, said. Nordey won the Laurence Olivier Award in 2008 for the opera “Pelleas et Melisande” by Claude Debussy. The award is equivalent to Broadway’s Tony Awards.

Blanche is played by Annick Massis, who received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, France’s top artistic honor, in 2007.

“The main character shows that she acknowledges the changes in her emotions as she witnesses what’s happening in society after she gives up her aristocratic life,” said Massis. “I hope to portray the ultimate freedom of soul she earns when she faces death.”

*“Dialogues of the Carmelites” runs from May 5 to 8 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets range from 10,000 won ($9.32) to 150,000 won. Go to Nambu Bus Terminal Station, line No. 3, exit 5. For more information, call (02) 586-5363 or visit www.sac.or.kr.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사[이데일리]
佛 오페라 `카르멜회 수녀들의 대화` 국내 초연
내달 5~8일 예술의전당서

18세기 프랑스 대혁명 시기, 수녀들에 대한 탄압을 소재로 한 프란시스 풀랑의 오페라 `카르멜회 수녀들의 대화 (Les Dialogues des Carmelites)`가 국내 초연된다.

국립오페라단은 오는 5월5일부터 8일까지 서울 예술의전당 오페라극장에서 `카르멜회 수녀들의 대화`를 선보인다.

이 작품은 독일의 여류작가 포르트의 소설 `단두대의 마지막 여자`를 원작으로 해 3막 4개 장으로 구성된 총 12장 오페라로 프랑스 대혁명 당시 카르멜회 수녀들이 단두대에서 처형당한 1794년 7월 17일 실제 있었던 사건을 소재로 하고 있다.

1957년 이탈리아 라 스칼라 극장에서 초연됐으며 이후 모더니즘 오페라의 시초가 된 작품이란 극찬을 받았다.

이번 공연에서 주인공인 블랑슈 수녀 역은 프랑스 출신의 소프라노 아닉 마시스가 맡는다. 아닉 마시스는 프랑스의 문화예술 공로훈장과 이탈리아의 황금기러상을 받을 만큼 성악가로서의 능력과 공로를 인정받았다.

연출은 스타니슬라스 노르디, 음악코치는 앙투완 팔록, 코리안 심포니 오케스트라가 연주를 맡았으며 소프라노 박현주가 블랑슈 수녀 역에 더블 캐스팅됐다.

이 밖에 크루아시 수녀원장 역은 메조소프라노 실비 브뤼네, 리두안 수녀원장 역은 소프라노 임세경, 마리 수녀부원장 역은 메조소프라노 정수연, 콘스탄스 수녀 역은 소프라노 강혜정이 무대에 오른다. 관람료는 15만원~1만원. 문의(02)586-5363.
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