78° Festival MMF

Pelléas et Mélisande

by Claude Debussy

"I wanted the action never to stop, that it be continuous, uninterrupted. The melody is “antilirica", unable to transpose the mobility of souls and life” is how Claude Debussy describes the lyrical drama that left aghast the Parisians who flocked to the Opéra-Comique to attend the premiere of Pelléas et Mélisande on the evening of April 30, 1902.  It was a  revolutionary creation, a manifesto of musical Impressionism and one of the first examples of Literaturoper, a composition in which the text, in this case the symbolist drama by Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck, is set to music without a libretto. As in a painting by Claude Monet, the sparkle of infinite colors paints with subtle expressive nuances this melancholy tale of love.

Pelléas et Mélisande
Opera in five acts
Music by Claude Debussy
Libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck adapted from the homonymous symbolist play


First part: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Interval: 30 minutes
Second part: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total duration: 3 hours and 20 minutes


Daniele Gatti

Daniele Abbado

Scenes and lights
Giovanni Carluccio

Francesca Livia Sartori

Choir director
Lorenzo Fratini

Orchestra and Choir of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Paolo Fanale

Monica Bacelli

Roberto Frontali

Roberto Scandiuzzi

Sonia Ganassi

Silvia Frigato

Le médecin/Le Berger
Andrea Mastroni



Daniele Abbado racconta Pelléas et Mélisande

Daniele Gatti racconta Pelléas et Mélisande

In the imaginary kingdom of Allemonde, Prince Golaud has gotten lost in the forest, when he discovers a weeping girl sitting by a spring. Mélisande is her name, and she tells him that she has come from far away and is lost so the Prince makes the decision to take her away with him. Six months later at the castle, Golaud’s mother Genviéve reads to King Arkel a letter from their son telling his step-brother Pelléas that he has married Mélisande. Some time later the two young people meet in the garden.


Pélleas and Mélisande are alone near an old fountain in the park when the girl loses her wedding ring while playing with it. Golaud is bedridden after being thrown from his horse at the precise moment when his wife lost the ring. When he notices she is not wearing it, Mélisande tells him that she lost in a cave by the sea. He then orders his wife to go immediately to look for it, together with Pélleas.


Mélisande is at the window combing her long hair. Pelléas, struck by the beauty of her locks begins to kiss her hair. Golaud arrives and reproaches their childish behavior, and when left alone with his step-brother begs him not to uspet his wife as she is with child. Golaud questions Yniold, his son from his previous marriage, on the relations between his step-mother and Pelléas and learns that they spend much time together and one day were seen exchanging a kiss.


Golaud is mad with jealousy: after a violent argument with his wife in front of Arkel, in the night he surprises the lovers who have met in the garden for a final farewell, and with his sword, wounds Mélisande and kills his step-brother, Pelléas.


Although her wounds are not serious, Mélisande is dying. After begging her forgiveness, her husband shows her the baby girl she has just delivered. She is too weak to take her into her arms,  and quietly dies.
Debussy 500x234CLAUDE DEBUSSY

He was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in Ile-de-France on August 22, 1862 and entered the Conservatoire National Supérior de Musique et de Danse de Paris at the age of twenty. Winner of the Prix de Rome for his cantata L'enfant prodigue, he lived at the Villa Medici between 1885 and 1887. He went to Bayreuth to attend the operas of Richard Wagner, fundamental inspiration along with the Indonesian music he heard at the Universal Exhibition of 1889. The Suite Bargamasque for piano of 1890 was well received, however, it was with the Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune for orchestra of 1894 that he gained international fame. Pelleas et Melisande, his only completed opera was produced in 1902, but the public reception at the time was disastrous due to the innovative musical structure. Author of famous compositions like the Nocturnes, a symphonic triptych for female chorus and orchestra (1901) and the three symphonic sketches La mer (1905), Debussy died in Paris on March 25, 1918.


Daniele Gatti


Born in Milan in 1961, here he graduated in conservatory Giuseppe Verdi. Among the many positions held are those of Chief Conductor of the Zurich Opera ( 2009-12 ), musical director of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna (1997-2007 ), and Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Opera House in London ( 1994-97 ). It is among the few Italian directors invited to the Bayreuther Festspiele, where he inaugurated the 2008 edition with a new production of Parsifal. After Elektra in 2010, he returns to Salzburg Festival in 2012 to conduct La Bohème. In the same year, with the Wiener Philharmoniker, conducts the entire cycle of the Brahms symphonies in Vienna and in a European tour. He opened the season at the Teatro alla Scala in 2008 with Don Carlo and La Traviata in 2013 . Since 2008 he is Music Director of the Orchestre National de France and, since 2009 Conductor Laureate of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, after having been their Music Director since 1996.


Daniele Abbado 500x234

Born in Milan in 1958, he graduated in 1978 from the Drama School of the Piccolo Teatro. He also took a degree in Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Pavia in 1985, and three years later designed his first theater production. A collaborator with Moni Ovadia, Studio Azzurro and Teatro Due di Parma, he is interested in relations between different theatrical languages and frequently uses multimedia technology. In the field of musical theater, his work ranges from the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to contemporary creations of Giorgio Battistelli and Luciano Berio. Artistic Director of the Fondazione I Teatri di Reggio Emilia since 2003, he received the Premio Abbiati for Il Prigioniero and Il Volo di Notte of Luigi Dallapiccola staged at the 67th Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

Thu 18 June, ore 20:30
Tue 23 June, ore 20:30
Thu 25 June, ore 20:30
Sun 21 June, ore 15:30

Stalls 1 € 120
Stalls 2 € 90
Stalls 3 € 70
Boxes/ Gallery 1 € 40
Gallery 2 € 25
Limited visibility € 10

Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Piazzale Vittorio Gui, 1
50144 Firenze

Dettagli e mappa
Oltre il sipario
Opera di Firenze
18, 23, 25 June, at 19.45
21 June, at 14.45