Discover the different ways in which music can transform a given literary source

The leading thread of this concert is provided by the play Pelléas et Mélisande, written in 1892 by the Belgian Symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949). It tells a tragic and poetical love story which inspired an unusual number of contemporary composers. Among them were Jean Sibelius, Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré and Arnold Schoenberg who used it as the basis for works ranging from symphonic poems to an opera.

In 1902, at the same time as Schoenberg was writing his symphonic poem, Debussy set about turning the play into an opera bearing the same title. The characters' ultimate fate recalls that of Romeo and Juliet or Tristan and Iseult, but the tale is shrouded in a Symbolist aesthetic in which everything is suggested rather than stated. The works Fauré and Sibelius dedicated to the same story date from 1898 and 1905 respectively. 

The presence of Debussy's opera Pelléas et Mélisande on this season's opera bill gives Josep Pons, a specialist in turn-of-the-century European music, an opportunity to remind us of these other scores. He will act our guide as we discover the different ways in which music can transform a given literary source.

PARADISE: the Utopia of a love that can only find fulfilment after death  

  • Approximate running time 1h 40m

Artistic profile

Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu
Josep Pons

March 2022

7Monday19:00Turn Dbuy

Information of Interest


G. Fauré
Pelléas et Mélisande, op. 80  

J. Sibelius
Pelléas och Mélisande, op. 46  

A. Schoenberg
Pelléas und Mélisande, op. 5