Met Opera: Pelléas et Mélisande
A scene from Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande." Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera
Pelléas et Mélisande
by Claude Debussy
Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Debussy's only finished full-length opera, a mesmerizing meditation on love and betrayal. A pair of brilliant young Met stars, tenor Paul Appleby and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, are the naïve title lovers, and baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the imperious Prince Golaud. Ferruccio Furlanetto, as Arkel, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux, as Geneviève, complete the cast.
While the story’s basic format of a love triangle is familiar, almost everything else about the work is atypical. The characters rarely reveal their feelings or intentions, and the dialogue is often deliberately indirect. But the beauty of the sensuous vocal lines and the ravishing orchestral writing will appeal to anyone who is willing to listen beyond standard operatic techniques.
The score’s constantly shifting palette of tones and colors is a perfect musical reflection of the story’s ambiguity and symbolism. There are motifs to represent characters that undergo subtle variations over the course of the opera. Ancient harmonic modes also contribute to a simultaneously exotic and ritualistic atmosphere. The vocal lines are as intensely wedded to the text as any in opera, and the ethereal vowels and liquid consonants of the French language are an important part of the soundscape.
CONDUCTOR: Yannick Nézet-Séguin
MÉLISANDE: Isabel Leonard
PELLÉAS: Paul Appleby
GENEVIÈVE: Marie-Nicole Lemieux
GOLAUD: Kyle Ketelsen
ARKEL: Ferruccio Furlanetto
Start time: 10:00am on Capital Public Radio.
Approximate running time 3 hrs 55 min
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