The Carmelites
CHAN 3134
The Sunday Times

Classical CD of the week
'Poulenc always wanted his only full-length "grand opera" to be performed in its audience's vernacular, so it is entirely appropriate that this masterpiece should feature in Chandos's admirable Opera in English series... It is a marvellous ensemble performance, gut-wrenching at the end as the chorus dwindles into a solo as each member perishes on the scaffold.'
Opera in three acts
Libretto by the composer
After Georges Bernanos' play Dialogue des Carmélites
Revised English version by Joseph Machlis
The Cast
Ashley Holland, baritone (PMF Scholar)
- Marquis de la Force
Catrin Wyn-Davies, soprano - Blanche de la Force
Peter Wedd, tenor (PMF Scholar)
- Chevalier de la Force
Gary Coward, baritone - Thierry
Natalie Herman, soprano - Off-stage voice
Felicity Palmer, mezzo-soprano
- Madame de Croissy
Josephine Barstow, soprano - Mother Marie
Orla Boylan, soprano - Madame Lidoine
Sarah Tynan, soprano - Sister Constance
Jane Powell, mezzo-soprano - Mother Jeanne
Anne Marie Gibbons, mezzo-soprano (PMF Scholar)
- Sister Mathilde
Ryland Davies, tenor - The Chaplain
William Berger, baritone - Monsieur Javelinot
James Edwards, tenor - First Commissioner
Roland Wood, baritone (PMF Scholar)
- Second Commissioner
Toby Stafford-Allen, baritone (PMF Scholar)
- First Officer
David Stephenson baritone - Gaoler
English National Opera Chorus
English National Opera Orchestra
Paul Daniel - Conductor

Recorded in Blackheath Halls, London 20-26 October 2005
Producer - Brian Couzens, Sound engineer - Ralph Couzens
Assistant engineer - Michael Common
The Sunday Telegraph
'Paul Daniel conducts a strong lyrical performance, finding the secret of Poulenc's delicate and always apposite orchestration. As Blanche, the novice whose nerve fails her, Catrin Wyn-Davies sings movingly throughout; her scene with Sarah Tynan's adorable Sister Constance is a touching highlight. Felicity Palmer's powerful Old Prioress sends a chill down the spine, and Josephine Barstow gives a riveting portrayal of Mother Marie. The studio recording is clear and well up to this label's high standards.'
Gramophone
‘Paul Daniel draws intense, beautiful playing from the orchestra, helped by one of Chandos’s most immediate, well-aired recordings. The first third of the performance is commanded by Felicity Palmer’s lacerating performance as the Old Prioress. This is a gift of a role for a mezzo of a certain age and Palmer makes the most of it as she conveys the old woman’s seeming loss of faith and fear of death. Every word is filled with meaning and delivered with amazing power... As Sister Constance, Sarah Tynan sings with charm and ease. As the new Prioress, Orla Boylan provides an admirable line; her final solo before the executions is most moving… the veteran tenor Ryland Davies is a model of style and feeling as the Chaplain and Peter Wedd makes his mark in the ungrateful role of the Chevalier de la Force.’
The Guardian
'It's conducted with implacable menace by Paul Daniel, and superbly played.'