Claude Debussy

Pelléas et Mélisande

Upcoming Performances

Tuesday

Jan 15 at 7:30 PM

Saturday

Jan 19 at 12:30 PM

Tuesday

Jan 22 at 7:30 PM

Thursday

Jan 31 at 7:30 PM

Overview

Debussy’s only opera, a mesmerizing meditation on love and betrayal, returns to the Met stage for the first time in almost a decade, with Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the landmark score. 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.

Production a gift of Pierre and Ailene Claeyssens

Languages

Languages sung in Pelléas et Mélisande

Sung In

French

Titles

Title languages displayed for Pelléas et Mélisande

Met Titles In

  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Italian

Timeline

Timeline for the show, Pelléas et Mélisande

Estimated Run Time

3 hrs 55 mins

  • House Opens

  • Act I

    68 mins

  • Intermission

    30 mins

  • Act II

    36 mins

  • Intermission

    30 mins

  • Act III

    71 mins

  • Opera Ends

World Premiere: Opéra Comique, Paris, 1902. Claude Debussy’s only finished full-length opera is a unique work. 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.

Creators

Claude Debussy (1862–1918) was a French composer who is best known for his orchestral music and piano works. His experiments in instrumentation and formal structure made him a huge influence on 20th-century music. Belgian author Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949), who penned the source play, was deeply involved in the Symbolist movement. 

PRODUCTION

Sir Jonathan Miller

SET DESIGNER

John Conklin

COSTUME DESIGNER

Clare Mitchell

LIGHTING DESIGNER

Duane Schuler

REVIVAL STAGE DIRECTOR

Paula Williams

Headshot of Claude Debussy

Composer

Claude Debussy

Setting

The opera is set in the mythical kingdom of Allemonde. The era is not indicated, but the ambience of the story is medieval. The setting is more suggestive than specific. Allemonde is reminiscent of “Allemagne” (Germany) and “le monde” (the world), but it could just as easily stand for a place that has never existed.

Music

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.