Dutch National Opera presents

Dialogues des Carmélites Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

This show was to been seen in November 2015


Duration 3:15

Breaks 1

By Francis Poulenc

Language French

Surtitles English & Dutch


Francis Poulnec
Opéra en trois actes et douze tableaux
Libretto by Francis Poulnec, after the play of the same name by Georges Bernanos
World premiere 26 January 1957, Teatro alla Scala, Milan


Revival (1997/98, 2001/02)
Premiere 7 November 2015

'Luminous and inventive production' - Wall Street Journal

In short

Following performances received with ovations, Robert Carsen’s production of Francis Poulenc’s moving opera Dialogues des Carmélites is returning to Dutch National Opera. Dialogues has been presented in thirteen countries, making it one of the company’s top productions. In Dialogues des Carmélites, composer Francis Poulenc brings together religion and revolution. The story is based on historical events.


During the turbulent French Revolution, Blanche seeks protection as a Carmelite nun in the convent, in fear of the harsh realities outside. However, life in the convent seems to offer no security, as it is dominated by the fear of death. Blanche escapes to her family home. When the nuns are sent to the guillotine, she joins them voluntarily, now strengthened by her faith.

Neem een kijkje achter de schermen bij de repetities van Dialogues des Carmélites, waar een bijzondere rol is weggelegd voor de figuranten in deze ontroerende opera.

Robert Carsen


With Dutch National Opera, the Canadian director Robert Carsen has staged Dialogues des Carmélites, Fidelio, Carmen and Falstaff.

Stéphane Denève

Musical director

STÉPHANE DENÈVE was appointed principal conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic and its Centre for Future Orchestral Repertoire this season.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Stéphane Denève
Stage Director 
Robert Carsen
Set Designer 
Michael Levine
Costume Designer 
Falk Bauer
Lighting Designer 
Jean Kalman
Philippe Giraudeau
Ian Burton
Residentie Orkest The Hague
Dutch National Opera Chorus
Chorus Master 
Ching-Lien Wu
Sally Matthews
Le Marquis de la Force 
Jean-François Lapointe
Le Chevalier 
Stanislas de Barbeyrac
L'Aumônier du Carmel 
Michael Colvin
Jean-Luc Ballestra
Madame de Croissy 
Doris Soffel / Rosalind Plowright
Madame Lidoine 
Adrianne Pieczonka
Mère Marie 
Michelle Breedt
Soeur Constance de Saint Denis 
Sabine Devieilhe
Mère Jeanne 
Virpi Räisänen
Soeur Mathilde 
Wilke te Brummelstroete
Roger Smeets
1er Commissaire 
Mark Omvlee
2ième Commissaire 
Harry Teeuwen
Michael Wilmering
M. Javelinot 
Sander Heutinck


With limited resources, Poulenc succeeds in Dialogues des Carmélites in stirring deep emotions. His powerful musical language is perfectly interpreted by director Robert Carsen in a strong visual spectacle filled with dramatic power of expression.

Austere and stylised
The ending, when the nuns climb the scaffold, is shocking and moving. The austere, stylised staging lends great poignancy to Robert Carsen’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites. After each blow of the guillotine, a voice disappears. Poulenc identifies strongly with Blanche, as religion became very important to him following tragic incidents in his own life.

Main roles
The main role in Dialogues des Carmélites is sung by Sally Matthews (Così fan tutte, Der Rosenkavalier and Deidamia). Doris Soffel (Die Frau ohne Schatten, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre) is Madame de Croissy, the elderly prioress. The famous soprano Adrianne Pieczonka is making her debut with DNO as Madame Lidoine.


The 100-year-young Residentie Orkest from The Hague has grown into one of the renowned symphony orchestras of the Netherlands. The orchestra gives concert series in the new Zuiderstrandtheater and pop temple Paard van Troje and performs at major venues in the Netherlands and abroad. From 2015-2016, the principal conductor is Jan-Willem de Vriend.