February 2, 2004

More Information:
Eastman Office of Communications, 585-274-1050

ROCHESTER, NY — As part of its ongoing season of outstanding modern works, Eastman Opera Theatre presents one of the greatest 20th-century operas, Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites. Performances will take place Wednesday through Saturday, February 11, 12, 13 & 14 at 8 p.m. For this winter production, directed by Steven Daigle, the setting is unusual, but very appropriate for this opera: Rochester’s beautiful Christ Church (141 East Avenue).

Poulenc wrote his only full-length opera in the early 1950s, basing it on a play by Georges Bernanos. It is the story of Blanche de la Force, a timid young woman living during the French Revolution, who becomes a Carmelite nun to escape her greatest fear: death. When the Revolution destroys her convent, Blanche runs away, but returns to join her sisters in confronting death with courage and grace. “I do not think I have ever done anything as good,” said the composer, and indeed Poulenc’s 1957 masterpiece was an immediate success and is one of the most frequently produced 20th-century operas.

As with most Eastman Opera Theatre productions, Dialogues of the Carmelites features double casting of major roles on alternating evenings. Blanche de la Force is played by Sarah Minckler and Erin Snell; Mari-Yan Pringle and Valerie Kopinski play Madame Lidoine; Margaret Gawrysiak and Abby Fischer play Mère Marie; Anna-Lisa Hackett and Susan Hochmiller play Sister Constance; and Drake Dantzler and Dan Hinson play the Father Confessor of the Convent. Other important roles are played by Munenori Sugetani (Marquis de la Force) and Kevin Park (Chevalier de la Force). Members of Rochester Opera Factory portray the chorus. The opera will be accompanied on solo piano by Benton Hess, distinguished professor of voice at Eastman.

General admission tickets are $15, with discounts for UR ID holders, available in advance by phone at 232-1900 or online at ticketmaster.com. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door one hour in advance of show time.

In addition, the Friends of Eastman Opera will sponsor a pre-performance talk featuring director Steven Daigle at 7 p.m. in the Guild Room of Christ Church before each performance. Admission is free with a ticket to the opera.