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Charles H Parsons
American Record Guide, July 2012

These performances from the Theater an der Wien…are exceedingly strong. Matthews is a tremulous, mezzo-tinted Blanche. One can almost feel her timidity and fear. Here soprano Polaski takes on a role with a lower tessitura…She handles it with ease…She is a superior actress and she puts on a grand show in her death scene. She sings it beautifully along with the dramatics. Breedt’s sturdy Mere Marie is an asset. Kerckhova is a charming, exuberant Soeur Constance. There is delicate grace and courage to the Mme Lidoine of Brunner. The male contingent of the cast is quite able, with a particularly strong Marquis and Chevalier from Jean-Philippe Lafont and Yann Beuron. The celebrated final scene of the opera glows with intensity and drama under the ministrations of De Billy. By subduing the chorus to a bare minimum the diminution of the nuns’ singing is very clear. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Dominy Clements
MusicWeb International, May 2012

The cast is good…Jean-Philippe Lafont as the Marquis has a vibrato which can shift rubble. Yann Beuron as his son is a strong and flexible tenor, and the key role of Blanche is done beautifully by Sally Matthews, with some startlingly well observed emotional extremes and very moving moments indeed. She has enough girlishness to be convincingly youthful sounding, but has enough vocal character to create a fully rounded character. Deborah Polaski is irrepressible as Madame de Croissy, Michelle Breedt suits the part of Mére Marie impressively.

The most important moments are all very well done, the Mother Superior’s agonies and death at the end of Act I for instance performed without extravagant melodrama. The intensity and build-up to the final scenes of condemnation is tremendous…it’s all very moving and tragic, and we can all come away from the experience glad we live in more humane times, yes?

All in all this is a highly recommendable recording of an opera everyone should have in their collection. In fact, if you have no other opera in your collection this is the one to have—on your top ten wish list if nothing else. Poulenc’s score is moving and marvellous: the whole experience can be overwhelming live, and is strong enough stuff on this recording. © MusicWeb International Read complete review

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