TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


The Forbidden Voice

Aurélie Mertenat



1736, Milan.
John Breval, a respected diplomat and father of two children, is a devoted visitor of the Saint Radegund convent. Its choir’s reputation runs far beyond the borders of the Milan Duchy thanks to young nun Paola Pietra’s angelic voice and to her singing teacher, the very talented sister Rosalba. Their interpretation of Pergolese’s Stabat Mater pierces John Breval’s heart!

One day, at a funeral, Paola faints and John Breval jumps up from his seat to rescue her. Deeply moved by the young nun locked up in the convent against her will, he attempts to see her again. Sister Rosalba recognizes in the protestant diplomat all the qualities of a gentleman, capable of saving her protégée from confinement. She helps Breval prepare for her escape, under the pretext of a diplomatic mission.

They travel through Europe before reaching England. But this adventure will be decisive for his destiny: Breval is removed from office. He loses both power and money and gets a divorce.

He has nothing left, except for the beautiful Paola. For how long?


While John Breval thinks he has fallen in love with young nun Paola Pietra, it is actually her voice, with its unusual timbre that provokes his visceral emotions and wildest fantasies. Breval is at the peak of success on all levels (professional, family, social). Nonetheless, he sacrifices everything he has skilfully built in order to free the nun, proud to perform an act that, he believes, will ennoble him. Paola Pietra is very beautiful, and the adventures they come across on their road trip through Europe reinforce his belief that she is his one big Love, the love of his life! But the couple eventually gets stuck in the English countryside, lost. Paola Pietra, now a free and independent woman, leaves him and returns to Italy. The story begins on an intense romantic note that is quickly shred to pieces when drama makes its way into Breval’s destiny. We are then presented with the disenchanted and cynical portrayal of a man carrying with him the main features of modern society. The focus is always on John Breval and the harshness of this observation is emphasized through a dry, linear narrative.

Illusion creates desire, the fulfillment of desire the fall.
Aurélie Mertenat

Scriptwriter, Film Director

production notes

directed by
Aurélie Mertenat

produced byVue sur Mer
Chemin Daniel-Ihly 15
CH-1213, Petit-Lancy