Heads Will Roll
Stage / The second production in Hawaii Opera Theatre’s brief season is Dialogues of the Carmelites–evocative and eloquent, despite cataloguing the deaths of 16 nuns at the guillotine during the French Revolution. Francis Poulenc was 58 when he wrote both libretto and music, and he knew his craft well.
“Everyone knows the ending,” says soprano Kristin Stone. “It’s shocking, it’s gut wrenching, but it’s really powerful. And it’s an uplifting story of what these women did.”
Stone plays Sister Constance, a coup for a local singer. She is the only local among the otherwise mainland leads.
Soprano Amanda Hall makes her Honolulu debut as Blanche, an aristocrat turned nun. She and tenor Joshua Kohl, who plays her brother, are popular young artists on the tour circuit. Their second-act duet marks a peak in music and narrative.
Poulenc apologized that his nuns could only sing tonal music, in a time when atonal was cool. His remorse was misplaced. As the nuns sing toward their deaths, Poulenc transports us to the sacred piety driving their sacrifice.