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Golaud chances on the mysterious Mélisande. He asks her to follow him. Golaud’s mother Geneviève and his grandfather Arkel learn of Golaud’s and Mélisande’s marriage from a letter. Pelléas, Golaud’s half-brother, asks for permission to travel to his dying friend. Having arrived at Golaud’s home Allemonde, Mélisande fears the gloominess of the family estate. Together with Geneviève and Pelléas she watches a departing ship, which she recognises as hers.
Pelléas and Mélisande have a conversation, during which Mélisande loses her wedding ring. When Golaud notices its loss, he sends Mélisande and Pelléas to search for the ring. In the dark the two of them encounter three strange figures and turn back.
Mélisande sings a song. Pelléas approaches. Golaud scolds them both. Pelléas accompanies Golaud into a dark abyss. Golaud asks him to avoid the pregnant Mélisande. He forces his son Yniold to watch Pelléas and Mélisande.
Pelléas wants to leave Allemonde soon and asks Mélisande for one last meeting. Filled with jealousy, Golaud attacks Mélisande until Arkel intervenes. Yniold watches a shepherd as he drives his herd into the stable. Beyond the walls of the castle Pelléas and Mélisande confess their love
for each other. Golaud surprises them and kills Pelléas. Mélisande flees.
Mélisande gives birth to a girl. Golaud begs for forgiveness and urges her to admit to her infidelity. Mélisande dies.
Inscrutable to us and inscrutable to themselves are the characters in Debussy’s dream-like and hypnotizing masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande. The French composer’s single completed opera is a pivotal work of the Fin de Siècle.
Free from all ornamentation, the opera allows the eyes and ears to focus directly on the psychological drama of these driven human beings: »Barrie Kosky’s tension-laden, black and white product reminds us of what’s really important in musical theater.« [Berliner Morgenpost]
Defying all convention, Maurice Maeterlinck reduced the external action of his plays to a minimum; everything of consequence is to be found in the implications between the lines, and is created only through the viewer’s powers of empathy and imagination. Debussy congenially captured the ambiguous currents of the source material in a musical chamber play in the Impressionist style. This production by Barrie Kosky conjures up the psychogram of a moribund, late-bourgeois society which has nothing with which to counter a world out of balance other than the solace of a finely chiselled melancholy.
The musical direction is provided by Canadian-born Jordan de Souza, Kapellmeister of the Komische Oper Berlin and a rising star in the international conducting scene.
Poetry by Maurice Maeterlinck
A co-produktion with the Nationaltheater Mannheim