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PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE

Opera by Claude Debussy

Drame lyrique in five acts by Claude Debussy. Libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck. In French with German and English surtitles. Recommended for ages: 12 and above.

Taking the play of the same name by the Belgian symbolist Maurice Maeterlinck as its source in his only completed opera Claude Debussy created a drama of the soul in chamber play form about the inability to communicate things that society considers unspeakable.   

In a dark wood Prince Golaud encounters the mysterious Mélisande and falls in love with her. He takes her to his father’s castle and makes her his wife. But Mélisande finds a kindred soul in Golaud’s half-brother Pelléas, with whom she is soon linked by more than friendship. However, the unfortunate couple cannot enjoy their forbidden love and are persecuted by Golaud’s obsessive jealousy…

Debussy was concerned with «the description of what cannot be seen», and his at times almost whispering music ominously expresses what remains unsaid. Characterized by a variety of tone colours typical of impressionism, a portrait is created of a broken family dominated by psychic as well as physical violence. Even one hundred years after Debussy’s death this key work of the modern era has lost none of its urgency.

Barbora Horáková Joly, who began her directing career at Theater Basel, was one of the finalists in the 2017 Ring Award directing competition in Graz. She has directed at Oslo Opera House and elsewhere and now returns to Theater Basel with «Pelléas et Mélisande». The baton will be taken by Theater Basel’s Music Director, Erik Nielsen, who following Korngold’s «Die tote Stadt» and Strauss’ «Elektra» now tackles another 20th century masterpiece.

Preisstufe VI (von 30.– bis 102.–)

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