Isabel Leonard stars in Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” at the Met

The Metropolitan Opera performs Debussy’s French opera Pelléas et Mélisande just five times at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center from January 15-31, 2019. From $30

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Argentine mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard stars with American tenor Paul Appleby. Ms. Leonard is a joy to the senses.

The Met’s French-Canadian Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

Pelléas et Mélisande

Pelléas et Mélisande is a tragic love triangle in five acts based on Maurice Maeterlinck’s play of the same name. In a break with tradition, Debussy used the actual text of the play. This influenced other composers.

It is set in the mythical kingdom of Allemonde which might be medieval Germany, but it’s not clear.

Prince Golaud finds a weeping Mélisande lost in the forest. He takes her home to his grandfather’s castle and marries her.

She is unhappy there and becomes enamored with Golaud’s younger half-brother Pelléas. Golaud becomes jealous and begins spying on the couple.

Pelléas finally decides to leave the palace. He meets Mélisande one last time outside the castle and they profess their love. They hear the castle gates close. Golaud, who has been spying, enters in a rage and kills his brother, while also wounding Mélisande.

The wounded Mélisande likes in a sick bed. Golaud still can’t let go of his jealousy and harasses her endlessly. After giving birth to a daughter, she dies.

The opera premiered in 1902 at Opéra Comique in Paris. It is Debussy’s only full-length opera.

Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was a French composer of orchestral and piano pieces. He is best known for Clair de lune. Debussy’s work has a cinematic quality that was very influential in 20th century classical music.

He had a big impact on New York’s own George Gershwin. If you listen to  Claire de lune and then listen to Gershwin’s masterful ode to New York, Rhapsody in Blue, the relationship is obvious.

The manner in which Debussy composed Pelléas et Mélisande was partly a reaction against the uber-dramatic influence of Wagner on the operatic form. In the same way that a French movie is often just a slice of life, Debussy toned down the theatrics and made his opera more human.

Pelléas et Mélisande Cast

Mélisande (soprano or mezzo-soprano): Isabel Leonard from New York City

Geneviève, mother of Pelléas and Golaud (contralto): Marie-Nicole Lemieux from Dolbeau-Mistassini, Canada

Pelléas, grandson of Arkel (tenor): Paul Appleby from South Bend, Indiana

Golaud, grandson of Arkel  (bass-baritone): Kyle Ketelsen from Clinton, Iowa

Arkel, King of Allemonde (bass): Ferruccio Furlanetto from Sacile, Italy

Conductor: Yannick Nézet-Séguin from Montreal, Canada

Pelléas et Mélisande Performances

This is Sir Jonathan Miller’s production.

January 15, Tuesday at 7:30pm
January 19, Saturday at 12:30pm

January 22, Tuesday at 7:30pm
January 25, Friday at 7:30pm

January 31, Thursday at 7:30pm

Pelléas et Mélisande Tickets

Tickets are available at the Metropolitan Opera box office, by phone and online.

Metropolitan Opera Box Office

Monday–Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm

Summer hours may vary. Call to confirm.

Tickets by Phone

CenterCharge: (212) 362-6000

Monday-Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm

Tickets Online

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