Pelléas and Mélisande

Claude Debussy

A musical drama in five acts (twelve scenes)
Libretto: Maurice Maeterlinck
World premiere: 30 April 1902, Paris
Co-produced with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence
In the original French

For adults only

‘A Black, E white, I red, U green, O blue, /I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins,’ wrote Arthur Rimbaud in his sonnet Vowels. Symbolist poetry and Impressionist painting influenced Claude Debussy’s works greatly. ‘The original, previously unknown sound of Debussy’s music, one would like to say – pastel sound, pure like the colours of the Impressionists, causes one to think of his music in painterly terms,’ notes Danuta Gwizdalanka, Polish musicologist. The opera Pelléas et Mélisande combines the subtlety of sound with the symbolist, dreamlike narrative by the Nobel Prize laureate, Maeterlinck. Katie Mitchell, the director of this production, wanted to preserve the mood of this story, and to convey the quality of the sound. She is a versatile artist – only in the recent several years she directed George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, Frank Martin’s Le Vin herbé, Handel’s Alcina, Sarah Kane’s Cleansed and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Her staging tells primarily of ‘the Other’. The alienated heroine, Mélisande, is a woman with an impenetrable secret, who changes the lives of those who cross her path. Mitchell paints on the stage – with sound, movement, image, gesture, silence – a hyperrealistic dream: everything that takes place on the stage takes place in the head of the dreaming Mélisande. And the beauty of these images and sounds is so immense that we don’t want to wake up.



Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

Actresses: Magdalena Różańska, Kamila Kamińska, Maria Ruddick


  • Patron of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons of the premiere

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  • Media patrons of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

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