A phantasmagoric, mysterious and dramatically well paced voyage

“Si j’étais Dieu, j’aurais pitié du cœur des hommes” (“If I were God, I would take pity on the hearts of men”)
(Arkel, Pelléas et Mélisande, Scene I, Act IV)


Pelléas et Mélisande, based on the Symbolist play by Maeterlinck, occupies a unique place in the history of opera. Though it met with total incomprehension from critics and the musical world in general after its Paris premiere, its dream-like idiom endows it with great magnetism and power.

The characters are absent, passive beings who roam silently about in a disquieting atmosphere. The enigmatic Mélisande, who possesses a strange beauty, meets the king's grandson Golaud in the forest and goes on to become his wife. When she later falls passionately in love with his younger brother, Pelléas, the relationship ends in both their deaths.

The work is a transposition of the myth of Tristan and Iseult, in which love prevails over the characters' wills and moral laws, finding fulfilment only in death. The musical language, in contrast, is completely new and a far cry from Wagner.

Àlex Ollé interprets the score by resorting to the language of dreams, with additional references to Freud and Surrealism. The resulting aesthetic is akin to the style of other present-day directors such as Lars von Trier or David Lynch. Ollé's version is conceived as an accumulation of impossible questions with no answers. The dominant feature of the set is a large black box which contains a great enigma and functions as a modern metaphor of the human mind. Within it the complex codes of dreams lie hidden, along with the truth about Mélisande's tragic death. It is linked to the outside world by a single basic element: water.

The text is a continuous melopoeia that relates the tragic love triangle by means of a largely static plot.

In this phantasmagoric voyage through unreality, which is troubling, mysterious and dramatically well paced, the main characters see true love as the prime ingredient of paradise.

PARADISE of true love

Pelléas et Mélisande

Lyric drama in five acts divided into fifteen scenes, based on the play of the same title by Maurice Maeterlinck.

World premiere: 30/04/1902 at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
Barcelona premiere: 11/10/1919 at the Teatre Tívoli.
First performance at the Gran Teatre del Liceu: 16/12/1930.
Last Liceu performance: 07/07/2012.
Total number of Liceu performances: 13.

  • Approximate running time 3h 20m

Artistic profile

Stage director
Àlex Ollé
Set design
Alfons Flores
Costume design
Lluc Castells
Marco Filibeck
Assistant stage director
Susana Gómez
New productions based on the Dresden Oper production
Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Pablo Assante, director)
Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu
Josep Pons


PelléasStanislas de Barbeyrac
GolaudSimon Keenlyside
ArkelFranz-Josef Selig
PhysicianStefano Palatchi
MélisandeJulie Fuchs
GenevièveSarah Connolly

February 2022

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Information of Interest


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