The heirs of Francis Poulenc are nun too pleased with Dmitri Tcherniakov's 2010 production of Dialogues des carmélites. They've taken the Bavarian State Opera to court, alleging the concept, in particular the final scene, misrepresents the 1957 opera.
A traditional synopsis will tell you the work is about 16 Carmelite nuns executed as martyrs for bravely defending their beliefs during the French Revolution. Tcherniakov's contemporary staging instead imagines a mass cult suicide prevented at the last moment by Sister Blanche's own self-sacrifice.
Poulenc's central message is that faith is worth dying for; Tcherniakov's that only human life merits the ultimate sacrifice. Clearly the two are diametrically opposed. Yet many who've seen the production (reviewers too) claim Tcherniakov's reading is profound and truthful - the word 'masterpiece' has even been bandied around.
Pending resolution of the lawsuit, scheduled performances on 1 and 4 November will take place. However the claimants have insisted that special programme notes are drawn up, distancing them from the production.
Make up your own mind - here's the production trailer: