Australian theatre and opera director Barrie Kosky’s new staging of Poulenc’s devastatingly powerful opera Dialogues des Carmélites (Dialogues of the Carmelites, 1957) will receive its delayed premiere at Glyndebourne Festival in 2023. It was originally scheduled to appear at the 2020 festival before the season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the opera tells a compelling true story of religious martyrdom and the power of faith, fate and human endurance. It follows the struggles of a young woman faced with a harrowing decision, along with the Carmelite nuns who, in 1794 during the closing days of the Reign of Terror, were guillotined in Paris for refusing to renounce their vocation.
This is Glyndebourne’s first-ever staging of Dialogues des Carmélites and the first new production by Barrie Kosky at the opera house since his landmark version of Handel’s Saul (1739) in 2015. It will open on 10 June 2023.
Glyndebourne’s music director Robin Ticciati will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra, along with an exciting ensemble cast led by Australian-American soprano Danielle de Niese, making a role debut as the opera’s heroine Blanche de la Force, a nun at a Carmelite convent.
She is joined by South African soprano Golda Schultz – last seen at Glyndebourne as the Countess in 2016’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart, 1786) – as Madame Lidoine, the new prioress at the convent, and Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill, who played Geneviève in 2018’s Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy, 1902), as Mère Marie, the sub-prioress.
Stephen Langridge, artistic director of Glyndebourne, commented: “The cancellation of the 2020 festival left us with a queue of excellent productions, built and ready to go, but having to wait for their moment. We were determined to get them back in our schedules as soon as possible, so I’m delighted that Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites finally arrives on stage next summer.
“The combination of Robin Ticciati, who continues his deep exploration of French music, and Barrie Kosky, with his unique theatricality and intelligence, delving together into this powerful, ultimately tragic story, promises an operatic experience not to be missed.”
The 2023 Glyndebourne Festival comprises two further new productions. Director Mariame Clément’s Don Giovanni (Mozart, 1787) opens the festival on 19 May. The production will examine the idea and experience of seduction and the model of masculinity presented by the mythical figure of Don Giovanni.
Moldovan baritone Andrey Zhilikhovsky stars as the eponymous womanising aristocrat. The roles of Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, two of the many women to be seduced and abandoned by the dastardly nobleman, are performed by Russian soprano Venera Gimadieva and Armenian soprano Ruzan Mantashayan respectively. It will be conducted by Evan Rogister.
The third new production of the season, opening on 23 July, is Handel’s dramatic oratorio Semele (1744), in its first-ever staging at Glyndebourne. It will be directed by the acclaimed Welsh director Adele Thomas, making her festival debut.
Jupiter, king of the gods, takes the mortal Princess Semele as his mistress. However, when Jupiter’s wife Juno hears of her husband’s adultery she is enraged, and plots Semele’s downfall.
Czech conductor and baroque music specialist Václav Luks will make his Glyndebourne debut leading the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. American soprano Joélle Harvey takes the title role, alongside British mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston as Juno and British tenor Stuart Jackson as Jupiter.
All three of these new productions will be filmed for future release on Glyndebourne Encore, an online streaming service.
The season also sees three revivals. Peter Hall’s staging of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960), has been a fixture in the Glyndebourne repertoire since its premiere in 1981. It will see Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska make her Glyndebourne debut leading the London Philharmonic Orchestra and a cast that includes English countertenor Tim Mead as Oberon and American bass-baritone Brandon Cedel as Bottom.
Also returning is John Cox’s 1975 production of Stravinksy’s The Rake’s Progress (1951), featuring iconic stage designs by artist David Hockney. The opera will be conducted by Robin Ticciati and among the cast are New Zealand tenor Thomas Atkins as Tom Rakewell, British soprano Louise Alder as Ann Trulove and British bass-baritone Sam Carl as the devilish Nick Shadow.
Completing the roster is a revival of Annabel Arden’s colourful and sunny 2007 production of Donizetti’s great romantic comedy L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love, 1832), conducted by British conductor Ben Gernon and starring British soprano Nardus Williams as the feisty Adina and Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan as her admirer Nemorino.
Glyndebourne Festival 2023 runs from 19 May-27 August 2023. Full casting information is yet to be announced. Tickets will go on sale in March 2023.
Director Barrie Kosky’s new production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites stars soprano Danielle de Niese as the opera’s heroine Blanche de la Force (Richard Hubert Smith).