West Road Concert Hall
Pelléas et Mélisande is a gem of Symbolist opera, what Olivier Messiaen called ‘the great, quite exceptional masterpieces of opera’ (1979), certainly at the peak of 20th century operatic composition.
Maeterlinck’s characters are guided through fate’s path as marionettes. Death hangs constantly over the characters with absolute inevitability. Death as it occurs is purely symbolic, as none of the characters were ever alive, in accordance with Maeterlinck’s belief that ‘poems die when living people get into them’. The souls which wander the stage in Pelléas et Mélisande are merely symbols of humanity. All we see is a single moment, a visible flash of an infinite cycle of life. The characters reveal infinite truths which will recur along with the continuation of mankind – lies, murder for jealousy, possession within love, innocence, and corruption. Ultimately, there is fundamental truth ‘la verite’, for which Golaud pleads Melisande on her deathbed; ‘Tell me no more lies at the moment of death’.But the truth will never be revealed. At her death, Melisande’s whispers the words ‘the truth? The truth?’ and Golaud cries out in agony: ‘Now I shall never know. I shall die without knowing, in my blindness.’