Emma Dante: “My ‘Dialogues’ at the Rome Opera dedicated to feminicide victims”

The director signs Poulenc’s masterpiece which opens the Costanzi 2022-2023 season on November 27 with Michele Mariotti on the podium. Superintendent Giambrone: “It will be the fixed date for all season openings”

Feminicides are getting worse and worse and it is significant that the presentation of a work such as ‘Dialogues des Carmelites‘, which recounts the killing of 16 women, coincides with the day against violence against women. And it’s at victims of feminicides that we want dedicate this show“. Thus the director at Adnkronos Emma Dantewhich brings the masterpiece of Francis Poulenc with Michael Mariotti on the podium of the Chorus and Orchestra of the Roman opera foundation, inaugurating Sunday 27 November at 7pm Costanzi’s 2022-2023 season. “It’s an opera totally feminine – says the director from Palermo – with only female protagonists who fight for their freedom until they are killed. This work is a pretext for us to close ourselves in this convent and pray for all the women who are killed every day”.

The ‘Dialogues des Carmélites’ takes its cue from one story that actually happened in France in 1794, in the midst of a period of terror, when revolutionaries guillotined sixteen French nuns, known as the ‘martyrs of Compiegne‘, for refusing to renounce their vows”. An “intolerable” affair – says Emma Dante – even if it took place way back in 1794. Poulenc on the text of Georges Bernanos (originally born to become a film, ed) gives life to a work that is very difficult because it is anomalous, a ‘unicum’ that does not resemble any other. It’s a’spiritual work in which nothing actually happens, there aren’t the usual love duets, the contrasts of jealousy, the conflicts. Inside this convent the nuns are all compact, they talk and talk about God, sometimes even denying him like Madame de Croissy who in her death says: ‘But where is God? A shadow has come…’. It’s difficult to stage because it’s very cinematic, you move quickly from one place to another in the convent, it’s a continuous sequence of paintings divided into three acts”.

The work, composed by Poulenc in 1953was staged for the first time at Scala of Milan in 1957 with an exceptional cast which included Gianna Pederzini, Virginia Zeani, Leyla Gencer and Fiorenza Cossotto, with Nino Sanzogno on the podium, in an Italian version by Flavio Testi. A theme very close to the sensitivity of Emma Dante, who has already faced other heroines, including Carmen, victims of feminicides. “They are mythical heroines, as are these Carmelites. In melodrama – observes the director – there is one strong light on women, much stronger than there is in prose or literature. There are always stories of women ignited by a strong yearning for freedom who, however, when they want to be free, are killed in a world dominated by ‘naturally’ free men. In this sense the melodramawhich especially for us Italians was fundamental, he taught a lot both at proseboth at literature. Great dramas and great novels were born from those plots”.

On the podium the musical director Michele Mariotti, ‘the theater is not an escape but a mirror of reality’

In staging the ‘Dialogues’ Emma Dante confesses that she was guided “by the dramaturgy of the music: I made a direction that does not involve curtain falls, but all the changes take place on sight, without ever interrupting the musical flow. The spectator makes a seamless journey from one place to another, from one situation to another. It is a work that enters the mind, but also the body with great carnality”.

During the presentation of the show, which took place this morning in the Foyer del Costanzi, the artistic director of the Rome Opera, Alexei Vladrecalled the “strong relationship” that binds Italian orchestra conductors to the ‘Dialogues’: “It was inaugurated at La Scala by Sonzogno, then in 2000 Muti conducted it, again in Milan, and now in Rome will see Mariotti on the podium”. Among other things, the young maestro from Pesaro is at his first inauguration of the season with this work as musical director of the Costanzi. “The theater must be the mirror of the reality we live in – says Mariotti – and it doesn’t only serve to make us escape. On the contrary, he must give us the keys and the strength to know and face reality”. The conductor hints at a football comparison, referring to what happened a few days ago at the World Cup in Qatar, when “the Iran team refused to sing the national anthem in defense of women’s rights. Here, we will open the season with a work that sees female protagonists who struggle in defense of their freedom to believe in God, with a force that overcome the fear of death. A hymn to freedom in such a difficult moment. It also teaches to win what is still a taboo, deathmaking us understand how life and death are related”.

Finally, the superintendent of the Rome Opera, Francesco Giambrone, recalls that “the premiere of the ‘Dialogues des Carmélites’ inaugurates a new habitthat of the fixed date of opening of the season every 27 Novembera symbolic date because it is that of the first inauguration of the Costanzi, in 1880. It is a fundamental choice”, explains Giambrone, underlining that the show “approximately 60 newspapers, many of which are foreign” and that “will be transmitted in live on Rai Radio3 and live-delayed on Rai5 in the early evening”.

With Poulenc’s masterpiece, a new season will also open for theater programs which, in addition to containing essays on the work and interviews with the protagonists, will broaden the gaze on everything that revolves around the title. Finally, Giambrone announces that the first issue of a magazine that the theater is organizing thanks to the work of the communication consultant will be released in January. Paolo Cairoliand the head of the press office, Cosimo Manicone.

The cast of ‘Dialogues des Carmélites’, a co-production of the Rome Opera with La Fenice in Venice – which after the premiere on December 27 will be repeated on November 29, December 2, 4 and 6 – include: Jean-François Lapointe; Corinne Winters; Bogdan Volkov; Anna Catherine Antonacci; Ewa Vesin; Ekaterina Gubanova; Emöke Baráth; Irene Savignano; Sara Rocchi; Krystian Adam; Roberto Accurso; William Morgan; Alessio Verna; Andriy Ganchuk.