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Pelléas et Mélisande

Pelléas et Mélisande

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Pelléas et Mélisande - Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande is a unique, timeless work. It is a bit like its characters, who evolve in another world, lost in the mists of a never ending dream, set to a hypnotic music that serves as a blurry mirror image of it. When he wrote it, Debussy asserted it is "an opera after Wagner, not inspired by Wagner”. The composer faithfully follows the plot of the Symbolist play penned by Maurice Maeterlinck, which unfolds in a sensual and dreamlike atmosphere. The singing follows the rhythms of natural speech and symphonic interludes depict the opaque beauty of the imaginary kingdom of Allemonde. It offers five acts of continuous mystery and passion, infused with music that is not much more than a shimmering veil.

The story takes place in the imaginary kingdom of Allemonde, governed by the aged King Arkel. After meeting Mélisande, a fragile and mysterious creature, while hunting in the forest, Prince Golaud marries her without learning anything about her and then presents Mélisande to his half brother Pelléas. A secret bond forms between the two...is it love? Golaud starts to spy on Pelléas and Mélisande. First, he tells his half brother to stay away from his wife, but then becomes more threatening as he is devoured by fear and jealousy. Pelléas and Mélisande end up confessing their love for each other. As they kiss, Golaud surprises them and kills Pelléas with his sword as Mélisande escapes. In the presence of Arkel and Golaud, who is filled with remorse, the mysterious Mélisande gradually dies of an unidentified affliction. Golaud never finds out the truth about her relationship with Pelléas.

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