WCSU Opera to present Poulenc’s ‘Dialogues of the Carmelites’
Landmark 20th century opera to be performed April 12 and 13 at Ives Concert Hall

DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University Opera will present “Dialogues of the Carmelites” by 20th century French composer Francis Poulenc in two performances at the university on Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13.

The WCSU Opera will perform Poulenc’s work, considered one of the most significant and challenging operas of the past century, at 8 p.m. both evenings in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Each performance will be introduced by a brief lecture about the cultural and historical context of “Dialogues” delivered by Dr. Galina Bakhtiarova, associate professor of Spanish in the university’s World Languages and Literature Department. The production is sponsored by the WCSU School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Poulenc’s opera, adapted from a screenplay by Georges Bernanos and first performed in 1957, tells the story of Blanche de la Force, a daughter of French nobility in the late 18th century who joins a Carmelite order of nuns in search of refuge from the violence and turmoil of the French Revolution. The opera’s characters find they cannot escape the fundamental questions of fear, integrity and faith amid the escalating Reign of Terror that ultimately engulfs the La Force family, the Carmelite convent and French society.

General admission will be $15, with a fee of $10 for seniors and children 12 and under. WCSU students will be admitted free with a valid ID. Advance reservations and ticket information are available online at www.wcsu.edu/tickets or by phone at (203) 837-TIXX. Tickets also will be sold at the door.

The WCSU Office of Alumni Relations will host “A Night at the Opera” on April 12 featuring dinner on the university’s Midtown campus and opera admission at a cost of $35 per person. The package will include an invitation to a reservation-only buffet dinner with complimentary wine beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Warner Hall, and a ticket for the evening performance. Reservations will be accepted through April 5; for information, call the Alumni Relations office at (203) 837-8298 or access the reservation form through the “Night at the Opera” link on the WCSU alumni home page at www.wcsu.edu/alumni.

WCSU Professor of Music Dr. Margaret Astrup, producer and director of the WCSU Opera presentation, noted that Poulenc’s work will be performed in English, reflecting the composer’s own preference that his opera should be performed in the language of the audience so as to enhance its immediacy and accessibility. She described “Dialogues of the Carmelites,” based on a real-life story of nuns who were martyred during the French Revolution, as another musical watershed for student members of the WCSU Opera.

“Each year I look for new ways to challenge our students and broaden their understanding of opera as a genre,” Astrup said. “This opera provides a wealth of challenges as well as great depth, both musically and dramatically.”

“The final scene in which the nuns face execution by guillotine, rather than recanting their beliefs, stands apart as one of the most powerful moments in all musical theatre,” she observed.

The cast will feature Rachel Armour, of Waterbury, in the leading role of Blanche de la Force, with Jean Carlos Rodriguez, of Waterbury, portraying her father and Erick Sanchez, of Stamford, performing as her brother. Cidalia Alves, of Stamford, will sing the role of the convent’s dying prioress, Madame de Croissy, with Benedetta Cordaro, of Stamford, appearing as the new prioress, Madame Lidoine. Other major roles will be performed by Carly Henderson, of Avon, as Mother Marie; Rachel Pelchat, of Torrington, as Sister Constance; and David Sylvia, of Stratford, as the chaplain.

WCSU Adjunct Professor of Music Eric Trudel will provide music direction, with Andrew Gordon and William Braun performing on piano.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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