Pelléas et Mélisande

by Claude Debussy
Performed: - Würzburg, Germany, Apr 22 - Jul 15, 1998

Nature child Mélisande is found in the woods by Golaud, taken, married and then moved to his family castle Allemonde. There, in the midst of a dark forest, Mélisande finds herself in a harsh world full of rules and restrictions, Golaud retreating into the rigidity of his family. Only his younger half-brother Pelléas is intuitive enough to understand Mélisande’s longing for light and love. Unable to break through his emotional armor, yet blindly jealous of this connection, Golaud kills Pelléas after seeing them together. In the last act Mélisande, having born a child, withers away. Golaud, filled with remorse and anguish, wants to understand. But Mélisande stays silent and dies.

Pelléas et Mélisande’s emotional tissue lives not in the plot, but rather in the orchestral subtle communication of the characters’ needs. Golaud longs for Mélisande’s love but cannot reach her, Pelléas finds his soul mate in her, but what Mélisande really wants remains unknown. Nobody listens closely enough. A beautiful, beautiful, sad piece of yearning.