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Guildhall School of Music and Drama

By Francis Poulenc

Libretto adapted from the the play by George Bernanos

Conducted by Clive Timms

Directed by Robert Chevara

Lighting design by Paule Constable 

The opera tells a fictionalised version of the story of the Martyrs of Compiègne, Carmelite nuns who, in 1794 during the closing days of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, were guillotined in Paris for refusing to renounce their vocation.

'Above all, the production preserves the opera's flow and continuity. The sliding steel 'curtain' is turned to sensational effect at the end, but with few props and a largely bare stage, attention focuses on the plight of the sisters. Paule Constable's imaginative lighting and Lucy Hall's designs - plush red for the Marquis's house, cold grey for the convent - set the tone admirably [...] Chevara catches the crisis and chaos inside the order, and his march to the scaffold has terrifying power. This was a deeply moving occasion.'

- John Allison, The Times

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