Pelleas and Melisande / Paris

  • Opéra Bastille Place de la Bastille Paris, Île-de-France France
The central figure of modern opera is often someone in a state of deficient consciousness, of pathological innocence.  Pelléas et Mélisande is one of the masterpieces in this evolution. Upon one of the most traditional opera stories, that of a young man whose love for a woman his own age or younger is thwarted because she is promised or already married to an older relative (‘Tristan,’ ‘Don Carlos,’ ‘Eugen Onegin,’ inter alia) is grafted the modern story about not understanding, not knowing, being balked by a mystery; or creating a mystery, by being afflicted by an unexplained injury or suffering.  Debussy’s opera (following the Maeterlinck play, used, almost in its entirety, as the libretto) has its special inflections. We are in the world without clear borders and fixed dimensions of Symbolist enigma: where appearances are known by their shadows or reflections; where debility and inexplicable affliction are equated with voluptuousness, and the emblematic object of desire is a languid childlike woman with art nouveau long hair.
— Susan Sontag, "Pelléas et Melisande: An Ecstasy of Lament," Pelléas et Melisande Program Book, Salzburg Festival 1997

Robert Wilson's iconic production of Pelleas and Melisande originally premiered in 1997 as a co-production of the Salzburg Festival and the Paris Opera.

More information and tickets here.