Pelleas et Melisande

Claude Debussy - Autumn 2015

In a dark castle weighed down by grief, a widower has brought home a mysterious young girl. When an attraction develops between the girl and his brother, the family is shattered. Delicate, erotic, and menacing by turns, this is an opera like no other.

Arranged by 
Annelies Van Parys
Conductor 
Jonathan Berman
Director 
James Conway
Designer 
Oliver Townsend
Lighting Designer 
Mark Howland

Wonderfully done.

4 STARS, Guardian

A gripping evening in the theatre.

Sunday Times

The instrumentation’s bright variety somehow makes the music more like Debussy, not less. And the lack of fuss in ETO’s show allows audiences to focus on what matters most: the words sung, the thoughts expressed.

4 STARS, The Times

Conway directs with expertise: even with its multiple ambiguities, the narrative maintains focus and the characterisations conviction.

4 STARS, The Stage

English Touring Opera has cast its production brilliantly: Jonathan McGovern is an unforgettable Pelléas.

WhatsOnStage

The chance to hear a Pelléas this good at venues right across the country is a rare one, and one that should be seized.

The Arts Desk

There is no other opera like Pelléas et Mélisande. For years Debussy searched for the perfect drama to set, and once he saw the strange, compelling play by Maurice Maeterlinck he had no doubt that this was it. The resulting marriage of music and drama is sensuous, mysterious, utterly captivating. For no other opera is the sensation of being ‘under a spell’ so applicable.

In a way, the drama is simple: a very intense widower brings home a simple girl, and marries her; when there are signs of her attachment to his young half-brother, he is violently jealous. But this is one of those dramas where what is unsaid is as important as what is said – and this is where Debussy’s wonderful score makes its magic. The mysterious setting of the remote castle by the sea, the terrific tension as the childlike lovers approach their doom, and the profound examination of character and fate all do their work: Pelléas et Mélisande affects everyone who sees it in an unforgettable way.

Belgian composer Annelies Van Parys’s sensitive, transparent arrangement has been much praised on the continent, and receives its UK premiere in this production, directed by James Conway with Jonathan McGovern, Susanna Hurrell and Stephan Loges in the central roles.

New production, sung in French with English surtitles
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (incl. interval)
Age guidance: 10+

Discover more

10 questions for ETO’s Pelléas Jonathan McGovern
10 questions for soprano Susanna Hurrell

Season podcast and music playlist

Showing At

  1. Royal College of Music
    1st Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  2. Royal College of Music
    3rd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  3. Buxton Opera House
    16th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  4. Malvern Theatres
    22nd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  5. Harrogate Theatre
    30th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  6. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
    7th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  7. Theatre Royal Bath
    9th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  8. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    13th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  9. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    20th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  1. Royal College of Music — 1st Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS

  2. Royal College of Music — 3rd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS

  3. Buxton Opera House — 16th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Water Street, SK17 6XN

  4. Malvern Theatres — 22nd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 3HB

  5. Harrogate Theatre — 30th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Harrogate Theatre, Oxford Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 1QF

  6. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge — 7th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    11 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP

  7. Theatre Royal Bath — 9th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath, BA1 1ET

  8. Snape Maltings Concert Hall — 13th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP

  9. Exeter Northcott Theatre — 20th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

    Exeter Northcott, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

Annelies Van Parys

Annelies Van Parys

Arranged by

Jonathan Berman

Jonathan Berman

Conductor

James Conway

James Conway

Director

General Director of ETO, James Conway has directed 24 new productions and 4 revivals for the company, including Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (to be revived in 2015), Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena and Handel’s Alcina, Ariodante, Teseo, Tolomeo, Flavio, Xerxes and Agrippina. Other notable ETO productions include Eugene Onegin, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Simon Boccanegra, The Emperor of Atlantis and the world première of Alexander Goehr’s Promised End. For RCM he directed L’incoronazione di Poppea and Le nozze di Figaro, and for the Canadian Opera Company Don Giovanni. His production of The Cunning Little Vixen is in repertory at the Moravian National Theatre in Janacek’s home city of Brno. He has written original libretti for 2 operas and translations for 5 others, as well as several works of fiction; his most recent translation was last season’s Agrippina. Upcoming productions include Giulio Cesare (Lucca) and Ottone (ETO).

Oliver Townsend

Oliver Townsend

Designer

Mark Howland

Mark Howland

Lighting Designer

Cast

Jonathan McGovern

Jonathan McGovern

Pelleas

A graduate of King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music, Jonathan McGovern has since distinguished himself as a young artist of great promise. Upcoming highlights include Robert Carsen’s production of Les fêtes vénitiennes with Les Arts Florissants under Bill Christie on tour in Toulouse and New York, as well as his role and company debut as Pelleas (Pelléas et Mélisande) in a new production for English Touring Opera. Further ahead Jonathan makes debuts with Staatsoper Hamburg and Garsington Opera.

Recent engagements have included an outstanding debut as Junior in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place with Ensemble Modern under Kent Nagano at the Konzerthaus Berlin, Konzerthaus Dortmund and Dresdner Musikfestspiele. He also sang the role of Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia) at the Verbier Festival, the title role in Il ritorno d’Ulisse under Christian Curnyn and the title role in Telemann’s Orpheus under Ian Page at the London Handel Festival. Concert highlights have included Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy at the Verbier Festival under Charles Dutoit, Carmina Burana at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, the NDR Podium der Jungen under Andrew Litton and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra under Daniel Cohen.

Further highlights this season include Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas) under Trevor Pinnock at the Wigmore Hall, Alidoro in Cesti’s Orontea with La Nuova Musica under David Bates and Pilate in Luigi Rossi’s Per la settimana santa at the Spitalfields Music Festival under Christian Curnyn.

Susanna Hurrell

Susanna Hurrell

Melisande

Susanna Hurrell made a “notable debut” (Daily Telegraph) with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Erisbe in Cavalli L’Ormindo at the Wanamaker Theatre, directed by Kasper Holten and conducted by Christian Curnyn.

This season’s highlights include Hurrell’s role debut as Lauretta Gianni Schicchi at the Royal Opera House, Mélisande in Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande with English Touring Opera, and Handel Messiah with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Highlights of the 2014-15 season included Dido in Purcell Dido and Aeneas with The English Concert, Despina Cosi fan Tutte at Opéra de Limoges, Norina Don Pasquale at Longborough Festival Opera, Cephise in Rameau Pigmalion with the OAE, Nymph in Monteverdi L’Orfeo with the Royal Opera / Roundhouse, Erisbe in a revival of Cavalli L’Ormindo, and Fauré Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic.

Other recent engagements include Governess The Turn of the Screw with Nevill Holt Opera, NI Opera, Moscow’s Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre; Britten Les Illuminations with the English Chamber Orchestra, title role (cover) Rodelinda for Scottish Opera, Rose Maurrant in Street Scene for The Opera Group, Théâtre du Châtelet, Gran Teatre del Liceu; Cephisa Orpheus for Classical Opera, title role Rodelinda, for London Handel Festival.

In concert, Hurrell performed in the world premiere of David Oppenheimer’s Deborah with Southbank Sinfonia, Pergolesi Stabat Mater with OAE, Britten Les Illuminations at the ROH Linbury Studio Theatre, Haydn Nelson Mass with András Schiff, Fauré Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall (recorded by EMI Classics.)

Hurrell was born in London and trained at the Royal College of Music.

Stephan Loges

Stephan Loges

Golaud

Michael Druiett

Michael Druiett

Arkel

Helen Johnson

Helen Johnson

Genevieve

Helen studied her PG Diploma at TCM and is represented by Steven Swales.
Opera roles include Azucena Trovatore, Annina Traviata (Dorset Opera); Larina Onegin (Stanley Hall); Bianca Lucretia, Marcellina Figaro (Opera East); Jezibaba Rusalka (Iford); Marguerite Faust (Pigotts); Mrs Goodbody Parson’s Pirates (Opera Della Luna).
For ETO Helen has sung Kolusina Jenůfa, Filipyevna Onegin, Feklusha Katya Kabanova, Clotilde Norma; covered Larina Onegin, Giovanna Seymour Anna Bolena, Kabanicha Katya Kabanova, Frugola Tabarro and Agnes Fantastic Mr Fox.
In 2008 Helen was a Wagner Society Bayreuth Bursary Competition Finalist.
Future engagements include Mozart Requiem, Coventry Philharmonic Choir, Mezzo Soloist, June 2014.

Lauren Zolezzi

Lauren Zolezzi

Yniold










Showing At

  1. Royal College of Music
    1st Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  2. Royal College of Music
    3rd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  3. Buxton Opera House
    16th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  4. Malvern Theatres
    22nd Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  5. Harrogate Theatre
    30th Oct 2015 - 7:30 pm
  6. West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
    7th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  7. Theatre Royal Bath
    9th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  8. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    13th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm
  9. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    20th Nov 2015 - 7:30 pm

Your Comments

  1. I just wanted to reiterate my thanks for your lovely Pelléas last week. Everyone I have spoken to loved it. I thought it was a brilliant show to export all round, and for opera, that's pretty necessary.

    Said Richard Langham Smith at 14:41pm on 8th Oct 2015

  2. This opera is well worth seeing. The story line the music, excellent. Also French is nearly good as Italian!
    Thank you for a great performance at Bath Theatre Royal. So refreshing to see different operas.
    Keep up the good work ETO.

    Said Mahesh at 09:31am on 10th Nov 2015

  3. Congratulations to all involved. An opera I had not seen before, and it was a revelation.
    The singing and playing was faultless.

    Said Judith at 12:19pm on 23rd Nov 2015

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