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"Conductor Franz Welser-Möst and stage director Sven-Eric Bechtolf join forces as one of the most prominent duos in today's musical theatre.“

(Die Welt)

If Claude Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande" is often likened to a controlled, painstakingly composed Impressionist painting by Monet, conductor Franz Welser-Möst's interpretation of Debussy's masterpiece is pure van Gogh, a vocal and orchestral tableau bursting with emotion and passion. Teaming up with stage director Sven-Eric Bechtolf, Welser-Möst has invigorated the pent-up dramatic energy of this "drame lyrique" and raised it to the level of a full-blooded tragedy.


Claude Debussy (1862-1918) based his work on the Symbolist drama by the Belgian author Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949). The story revolves around the mysterious child-woman Mélisande, her husband Golaud and the man she loves, Pelléas, Golaud's stepbrother - a tragic love triangle unfolding in a mythical land called Allemonde. Maeterlinck's poetic yet simply worded, often realistic text casts a magical spell that Debussy subtly captured in his iridescent score.


The Zurich Opera's production depicts Allemonde as a world of Arctic barrenness and frozen emotions, yet one that longs for light and warmth. In designer Rolf Glittenberg's elegant sets, Bechtolf masterfully conveys this fundamental paradox: characters trapped in a dying world, yet pulsing with repressed passion - fire burning beneath the ice… Bechtolf visualizes the hopelessness of human interaction by doubling the characters with life-sized puppets, "doppelgängers" who extend the characters' emotional range into the furthest corners of the psyche.


Led by Franz Welser-Möst, the well-disposed orchestra and the remarkable cast headed by Isabel Rey, Rodney Gilfry and Michael Volle shape great waves of intensity, charging every phrase and note with energy and expression. Vibrating with nervous tension, the music strides towards its moment of greatest intensity - Pelléas and Mélisande's declaration of love - and literally explodes … into silence. It is one of the most unforgettable moments in all of opera.

Claude Debussy
Orchester der Oper Zürich
Franz Welser-Möst
Lázló Polgár, Rodney Gilfry, Isabel Rey, Michael Volle
Sven-Eric Bechtolf
TV Director
Felix Breisach
Picture Format
5.1 Surround Sound