Three striking pieces that put women centre stage weave together to make up the 2019 Val Machin Opera Scenes. Classic extracts from Massenet’s Manon (sung in English), Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (sung in French) and Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana (sung in Latin and Italian) will be showcased by some of the country’s best young opera singers, conducted by Nicholas Cleobury and directed by Jacqui Somerville.
Massenet’s Manon tells the story of an impulsive young woman who is drawn into a world of male desire. She recklessly chooses luxury over love and, in doing so, pays the ultimate price. The scene takes place in France during the 18th century under the reign of Louis XV. Dialogues des Carmélites, based on true story, explores faith and redemption, fate and sacrifice. The opera explores the events that lead to 16 Carmelite nuns being beheaded during the Reign of Terror. It charts the story of Blanche who deserts her aristocratic family under the pressures of the shadows of the revolution and joins the Carmelite order in the hope of escaping death. As the increasingly paranoid revolutionaries close in, Blanche, her family and the nuns hold a series of discussions on their circumstances, the danger, their faith and, ultimately their martyrdom. Mascagni’s, Cavalleria Rusticana is a drama of betrayal and retribution. Adapted from a short story and play written by Giovanni Verga, the opera takes place on an Easter Morning in 19th Century Sicily.