Music: Dialogues of Poulenc

France's Composer Francis Poulenc, 58, built a solid reputation as the composer of sophisticated vocal works, frothy, impudent ballets and opera such as Les Mamelles de Tirésias* which gaily urged its audience to "make babies now as you never have before." Sobered by his wartime experience in the resistance, he turned increasingly to more austere works, three years ago undertook an opera based on the late Georges Bernanos' reverent drama The Dialogues of the Carmelites. In one of its rare premières of modern opera, Milan's La Scala put Poulenc's Dialogues on display.

The Bernanos plot is based on the historical martyrdom of...

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