Reynaldo Hahn

La Carmélite

Musical comedy in four acts and five scenes to a libretto by Catulle Mendès, premiered at the Opéra-Comique on 16 December 1902.

Despite a subtitle that makes reference to a later musical tradition, Hahn’s work is resolutely light in tone. It brings to the stage the true story of the love affair between Louis XIV and Louise, the future duchess of La Vallière, who meet by chance at a ballet rehearsal. The feelings the young woman (performed by the brilliant Emma Calvé on the evening of the premiere) has for the king, devoid of ulterior motive, earn her his love in return. Their affection gives rise to some lovely arias, whose restrained vocal writing seems to operate as a sign of social distinction. The relationship between the two young lovers is, however, marred by the jealousy of Athénaïs and by the intervention of “L’Évêque”, recognisable as Bishop Bossuet, who threatens Louise with damnation. She ends her affair with the King and decides to enter the order of the Carmelites. The remarkably realistic representation of Louise taking the veil caused a scandal in the press and the scene was shortened from the second performance of the work onwards. The stormy reception of the opera, which lacked any anticlerical commentary, can probably be explained by the prevailing social tension at the time of the opera’s first performance, following the publication of two decrees banning certain religious orders.


Sat 14 March 2020
Halle aux Grains, Toulouse


Alfonso Caiani conductor
Leo Hussain conductor

Louise de La Vallière Hélène Guilmette
Athénaïs Jennifer Holloway
Le Roi Sahy Ratia
L’Évêque Patrick Bolleire
Ardélise / 1re Femme Anaïs Constans
Acté / L’écolier / L’Abbesse Axelle Fanyo
Églé Carine Séchaye
Hélys Marie Gautrot
Olympe / 2e Femme Eléonore Pancrazi
La Reine / La Sorcière Ève-Maud Hubeaux
Le Musicien Maxime Melnik
Le Maître à danser Sébastien Droy
Le Poète / Le Sacrilège Jérôme Boutillier
Le Comte / 2e Soldat Laurent Deleuil
Le Duc / 1er Soldat Valerio Contaldo
Le Marquis Artavazd Sargsyan
In collaboration with the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse
Recording for the 'French opera' series – BRU ZANE
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