Pelléas et Mélisande

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Music:Claude Debussy
Libretto:based on the play by Maeterlinck
Premiere:Paris, April 30, 1902

For Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy composed a score as subtle and haunting as the story of the mysterious creature Mélisande, coaxed from her dark forest home to secretly wed Golaud, grandson of King Arkël of Allemonde. The King forgives Golaud, but Mélisande, wandering in the garden with her brother-in-law Pelléas, drops her wedding ring in a pool, magically causing her husband to be injured in a fall from his horse. From his bed, Golaud sends Mélisande after the enchanted ring, and when Pelléas accompanies her, the two fall innocently into childlike love. Jealous Golaud warns Mélisande away from Pelléas, but she agrees to a last meeting, and the couple abandon themselves to their premonitions of doom. Suddenly Golaud bursts on to the scene, slays Pelléas and chases Mélisande, wounding her slightly. After giving birth to a girl, Mélisande quietly dies, resisting repentant Golaud's pleadings and denying any guilt to the end.

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