You won't see any heads chopped off, but when the 16 doomed Carmelite nuns meet their fate at the guillotine, the directors (Ryan Frenk and Whitney Zangarine) have worked out something quite dramatic to show that horrible moment when these Martyrs of Compiègne refused to renounce their vocation.
In what will be the inaugural production for Houston's newest independent theater company, EaDo Lyric Theatre will present Dialogues des Carmélites, a fictionalized version of true events in 1794 during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror. EaDo has updated the 1956 French-language opera for modern audiences, and it will be sung using the revised English translation by Joseph Machlis.
“It's just a play that happens to be composed as well,” says Frenk, EaDo's founding artistic director. “Except for the hymns, it's almost like people talking on pitch, like Les Mis, two or three arias in the whole piece. It's really just a collection of dialogues between people; snippets of history.”
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Frenk sees a lot of parallels in the story between now and then. “It's about religious persecution and religious freedom; it's a very layered story. So there are like three factions in French socioeconomic status: the nobility, the normal people and the clergy; however, the clergy and nobility were very intermixed. When the commoners wanted to take over, the clergy fell with the nobility.”
Frenk, who attended University of Houston's Moores School of Music, is excited about the lyric theater concept, which he says should offer stage opportunities for so many of the talented people with whom he has worked over the years, including at Bayou City Theatrics and Main Street Theater. Zangarine is a teaching artist at the Alley Theatre, and Gregory McDaniel, the production's music director and conductor, is the assistant director at the Fort Bend Symphony.
7 p.m. March 4 and 5; 5 p.m. March 6. Frenetic Theater, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 713-305-9877 or visit eadolyrictheatre.com. $40.