Premiere of Claude Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande at the Mariinsky Theatre

The Mariinsky Theatre will be hosting the premiere of a new production of Claude Debussy’s opera based on Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Pelléas et Mélisande on 13 April at 19:00, on 14 April at 14:00 and on 18 April at 20:00.


To mark one hundred and fifty years since the birth of Debussy, the Mariinsky Theatre is paying tribute to the composer with a production of his only complete opera. Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande is being staged in St Petersburg for the first time in almost a century and for the first time ever at the Mariinsky Theatre.

Debussy’s attention was drawn by Maeterlinck’s play Pelléas et Mélisande, staged in 1893. In it he saw something he had been searching for in vain for years – the text for an opera. Maeterlinck’s play perfectly matched his demands of an opera libretto and it was set to music by the composer with almost no changes.

The premiere of the opera Pelléas et Mélisande took place in Paris on 30 April 1902 and brought the composer public acclaim, while it proved an historic event in French music that heralded the start of the 20th century.

The opera began to be staged in countries throughout Europe and it reached New York across the Atlantic as well as Russia too: in 1915 it was staged by the Petrograd Musical Drama Theatre. The premiere was hailed as a watershed in the history of Russian music, and the “charm of this music” was proclaimed unanimously.

The opera remained in the repertoire for two years. It was then only remembered at the close of the 20th century: in 1999 and 2010 it was performed at the Great Hall of the St Petersburg Philharmonic.

The start of 2012 – one and a half centuries since Debussy’s birth – was marked with a concert performance of the opera at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre prior to this new production.

The production of the opera is being staged by theatre director Daniel Kramer. The thirty-five year-old American who lives in London has already staged the opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle – apropos also after Maeterlinck – at the Mariinsky Theatre.

The production team includes Giles Cadle (Set Designer), Michael Krass (Costume Designer), Elaine Tyler-Hall (Assistant Stage Director and Choreographer) and Peter Mumford (Lighting Designer).

The lead roles are being rehearsed by Andrei Bondarenko, Vladimir Moroz and Roman Shulakov (Pelléas), Anastasia Kalagina, Irina Mataeva and Ekaterina Popova (Mélisande), Vladimir Felyauer, Andrei Serov and Yevgeny Ulanov (Golaud) and Alexander Kiselev and Oleg Sychov (Arkel). The performances will be conducted by Valery Gergiev.

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