Order. Discipline. Brotherhood. Greatness.

The Greatest Catholic Opera

Opera has traditionally had little interest in Christian orthodoxy, except as a foil for some preferred spiritual excellence. The lyric stage has concerned itself mostly with the political life and especially with the erotic life, and left conventional godliness out of the picture. Of course Teutonic gods who go up in flames, quasi-karmic Fate, demonic religious personnel, and even some actual demons may have their appointed place, but old-fashioned Christianity is deemed out of order. So when the French Roman Catholic composer Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) wrote his 1957 masterpiece,

Dialogues des Carmélites (Dialogues of the Carmelites)

the work’s celebration of heroic piety defied the secular spirit of the art form.

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