Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande review – Roth and Les Siècles make beguiling opera more miraculous than ever | Classical music

Pelléas is a one-off”, says François-Xavier Roth within the sleeve notes to his new recording, “The primary exemplar of what opera was to grow to be within the Twentieth and twenty first centuries and of what it will probably not be”. As one of many turning factors within the evolution of opera, Debussy’s masterpiece is already very effectively represented on disc, however Roth’s efficiency, which stems from a manufacturing at Opéra de Lille final 12 months, differs from all its predecessors by having the interval devices of Les Siècles within the pit.

In an opera whose drama relies upon a lot on the minutest nuances of the word-setting and the online of orchestral motifs underpinning it, the usage of intestine strings and turn-of-the-Twentieth-century woodwind and brass provides an additional dimension to the expressive palette. The features are apparent proper from the opening, the place the darkish, slowly churning strings, taking part in with out vibrato, conjure up the ambiance of ambiguity and veiled menace that pervades the entire work, proper by means of to the trickle of woodwind tears with which it ends.

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande album cover
Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande album cowl

Roth makes Debussy’s dealing with of orchestral color appear more magical than ever, and although his orchestra lacks the sheer tonal heft of a contemporary band, the nice climaxes, comparable to Golaud’s explosion of rage within the third act, or Pelléas and Mélisande’s ultimate assembly within the final scene of the fourth, appear more intense than ever, whereas the moments of quiet lyricism are wrapped in textures of extraordinary delicacy.

Due to Covid restrictions, the Lille staging directed by Daniel Jeanneteau was by no means carried out earlier than a reside viewers (although it was streamed), and this audio recording was in a position to obtain a studio-like readability consequently. In an opera through which phrases matter a lot, it’s an enormous benefit having a completely Francophone solid (although Debussy apparently favoured a non-French Mélisande, to emphasize her other-worldliness). Right here each single syllable is distinct. Pelléas is a task that falls between typical classes and right here it’s the tenor Julien Behr, contrasting completely with Alexandre Duhamel’s baritone Golaud. Behr’s efficiency is kind of staid, even within the more ecstatic moments, whereas Duhamel is rarely overbearing both; Golaud can by no means be the true “hero” of this opera, however on this recording he appears more sinned towards than sinning, although Vannina Santoni’s velvety Mélisande appears totally guileless too. The sepulchral Arkel is Jean Teitgen, the very fantastic Geneviève is Marie-Ange Todorovitch, whereas Golaud’s son Yniold is sung by a boy treble (Hadrien Joubert) quite than the standard grownup soprano. However what issues most is the sense of a real ensemble efficiency, which makes Debussy’s endlessly beguiling rating appear more miraculous than ever.


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