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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s “Joan of Arc at the Stake”


Dhavernas was compelling from beginning to end. Even the way that she rose from her chair to face her accusers was imbued with theatrical quality. She is able to demonstrate many complex emotions especially in this oratorio setting as opposed to a staged operatic setting. The lighting of Joan throughout the evening was a production detail that did not go unnoticed, especially during the times that she was lit from behind in a pure white light and the instrumentalists and chorus were bathed in blues and reds.

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The oratorio requires a performer in the title role -- a speaking part -- who can create a kind of music of her own. That Caroline Dhavernas did superbly.

Though confined to a small plot of space onstage, the actress inhabited the character so incisively -- she even looked the part -- that you could conjure up cinematic imagery to go with it.

Dhavernas proved wonderfully touching in the close of Scene IX, when Jeanne says with quiet faith, "There is God who is the strongest." The actress was likewise affecting in the next scene, when Jeanne sings a few lines from a folk song (the only singing called for in the role).

BSO makes case for Honegger's quirky oratorio 'Joan of Arc at the Stake'

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