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Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande

A new Scottish Opera production of Debussy's masterpiece Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande, directed by David McVicar. Starring soprano Carolyn Sampson and tenor Andrei Bondarenko.

Carolyn Sampson (Mélisande), Roland Wood (Golaud) and Andrei Bondarenko (Pelléas) star in Scottish Opera's new production of Debussy's masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande. Prince Golaud finds a young woman, Mélisande, lost in the woods, marries her and takes her home to his castle. Mélisande however becomes increasingly unhappy and finds herself drawn to Golaud's brother Pelléas. As they fall in love, their fate is sealed.
Presented by Donald Macleod with guest Kate Molleson.

Mélisande ..... Carolyn Sampson (soprano)
Pelléas ..... Andrei Bondarenko (tenor)
Golaud ..... Roland Wood (baritone)
Arkel ..... Alastair Miles (bass)
Geneviève ..... Anne Mason (mezzo-soprano)
Yviold ..... Cedric Amamoo (treble)
Doctor ..... Jonathan May (bass-baritone)
The Orchestra of Scottish Opera
The Chorus of Pelléas et Mélisande
Stuart Stratford (conductor)

Photo credit: Richard Campbell.

3 hours

Music Played

  • Claude Debussy

    Pelléas et Mélisande - Act 1

    Singer: Roland Wood. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko. Singer: Carolyn Sampson. Orchestra: The Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Conductor: Stuart Stratford.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelléas et Mélisande - Act 2

    Singer: Roland Wood. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko. Singer: Carolyn Sampson. Orchestra: The Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Conductor: Stuart Stratford.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelléas et Mélisande - Act 3

    Singer: Roland Wood. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko. Singer: Carolyn Sampson. Orchestra: The Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Conductor: Stuart Stratford.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelléas et Mélisande - Act 4

    Singer: Roland Wood. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko. Singer: Carolyn Sampson. Orchestra: The Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Conductor: Stuart Stratford.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelléas et Mélisande - Act 5

    Singer: Roland Wood. Singer: Andrei Bondarenko. Singer: Carolyn Sampson. Orchestra: The Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Conductor: Stuart Stratford.

Synopsis

Act I Scene 1 – In a forest

Prince Golaud of Allemonde has been out hunting but is now lost. He

notices a young girl by a pool. There is a crown in the water. The girl

refuses to let Golaud retrieve it for her. Gradually Golaud learns that

she too is lost, having fled an unknown place, and that her name is

Mélisande. Golaud persuades her to leave the forest with him.

 

Act I Scene 2 – A room in the castle

Six months later. Geneviève, mother to both Golaud and his halfbrother

Pelléas, reads a letter to the almost-blind Arkel, King of

Allemonde. It has been written by Golaud to Pelléas and relates

how Golaud has married Mélisande but knows as little about her

now as when they met in the forest. Golaud is worried that Arkel, his

grandfather, will not accept the marriage, so he asks Pelléas to send

a sign that all is well: a light in a tower signifies that Arkel blesses the

couple.

Pelléas enters, crying. He wants to visit his dying friend, Marcellus, but

Arkel reminds him that his own father is very ill too and that he must

stay at home. Geneviève tells Pelléas he must light the lamp in the

tower for Golaud.

 

Act I Scene 3 – Before the castle

Geneviève and Mélisande walk together in the dark gardens, where

they encounter Pelléas. They watch a ship put out to sea. Mélisande

recognises it as that which brought her. She believes it will sink. After

Geneviève has left to look after Yniold, Golaud’s son from his first

marriage, Pelléas offers Mélisande his hand to guide her. He says that

he may have to go away the next morning. She asks him why.

 

 

Act II Scene 1 – A well in the castle gardens

Pelléas brings Mélisande to a shaded well, out of the oppressive heat.

As she reaches out into the well, Mélisande’s long hair falls into the

water. Pelléas asks her about her first meeting with Golaud, but she

is unwilling to answer his questions. She plays with Golaud’s ring, but

throws it too high and it falls into the well. Mélisande asks Pelléas

what she should do. He replies that she should tell Golaud ‘the truth’.

 

Act II Scene 2 – A room in the castle

Mélisande sits beside Golaud, who is in bed, injured. He was thrown

from his horse as the clock chimed twelve, the same time Mélisande

lost his ring in the well. Mélisande says she is unhappy in the castle

and wants to leave. As Golaud seeks to comfort her, he notices her

wedding ring is missing. Mélisande says she must have lost it in a

cave by the sea where she went looking for shells for Yniold. Golaud

demands that she find the ring, and that she take Pelléas if necessary

to help her.

 

Act II Scene 3 – A cave

At night, Pelléas accompanies Mélisande to the cave. The moon casts

light inside, revealing sleeping beggars. Pelléas explains that there is a

famine in the land, and that these impoverished people have sought

refuge in the cave.

 

 

Act III Scene 1 – A tower of the castle

Mélisande combs her long hair at a high window. Pelléas appears. He

intends to leave the following day and would like to kiss her hand. As

Mélisande leans out, her hair falls and he kisses that instead, trapping

her by tying it to the nearby branches of the trees. Golaud suddenly

arrives. He angrily tells the pair to stop behaving like children, and

leads Pelléas away.

 

Act III Scene 2 – The castle vaults

Golaud forces Pelléas to look into a stagnant well.

 

Act III Scene 3 – The entrance to the vaults

Noon. Golaud warns Pelléas not to continue his childish games with

Mélisande. She may be pregnant and mustn’t have any unexpected

shocks. Pelléas should avoid her as tactfully as possible.

 

Act III Scene 4 – Before the castle

Dawn. Golaud questions Yniold as to what he knows about Pelléas

and Mélisande. Yniold offers few answers. Golaud lifts him onto his

shoulders so that he can see into Mélisande’s room. She is there with

Pelléas. Yniold reports that they are looking at the light. Frightened,

he struggles and begs to be let down. They leave.

 

 

INTERVAL

 

Act IV Scene 1 – A room in the castle

Pelléas tells Mélisande that his father is recovering his health, and has

urged Pelléas to leave on his travels. Pelléas and Mélisande arrange to

meet for a final time at the well in the gardens.

 

Act IV Scene 2 – The same room

Arkel tells Mélisande that he felt deeply sorry for her when she first

arrived with Golaud, but now hopes for a brighter future. Golaud

storms in, bleeding – wounded apparently by a thorn. When

Mélisande tries to help him, he demands his sword. Mélisande is

terrified. Mocking her innocent demeanour, he grabs his wife by her

hair and drags her across the floor. With her husband out of the room,

Mélisande tells Arkel that Golaud doesn’t love her any more.

 

Act IV Scene 3 – A well in the castle gardens

Yniold is trying to free a ball from under a stone. He sees a shepherd

approach with his flock. The sheep are bleating in fear. He calls out to

the shepherd to ask why. A voice replies that this isn’t the way to the

fold. Frightened, Yniold runs off.

 

Act IV Scene 4 – The same well

Night. Pelléas is joined by Mélisande. They finally declare their love for

each other. They hear the castle doors being locked and are resigned

to their fate. As they kiss, Golaud emerges from the shadows. He kills

Pelléas. Mélisande, wounded, flees, pursued by Golaud.

 

Act V – A room in the castle

Mélisande has given birth to a baby girl. A doctor is bewildered as to

why she is fading away when her wounds are so slight. Alone with

her, Golaud asks for Mélisande’s forgiveness. Mélisande maintains her

innocence, though Golaud continues to press her for the truth. Arkel

returns with the baby. Mélisande sees that she doesn’t cry. Mélisande

dies.

Broadcast