A mysterious woman, a forbidden love, a family torn apart.
Stefan Herheim, one of Europe’s most exciting directors, makes his company debut with Glyndebourne’s first new production of Pelléas in nearly 20 years.
When Prince Golaud meets the mysterious Mélisande, he falls instantly in love with this beautiful, broken girl. So does his brother Pelléas. Cloaked in the darkness of the shadowy kingdom of Allemonde, this passionate love triangle unfolds in hints and suggestions, glimpses and glances, elusive right up to its tragic conclusion.
A delicate fairytale
Sharing the sensuous, dreamlike soundworld of Debussy’s La Mer and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un Faune, Pelléas et Mélisande celebrates the colour and power of the contemporary orchestra in an evocative score, rich in human emotion. ‘Forget you are singers,’ Debussy told his original cast, and the result is a musical drama whose instinctive truths speak straight to the heart – a delicate fairytale that whispers where other operas shout.
Stefan Herheim, makes his Glyndebourne debut with a bold staging that promises to cut to the core of this timeless, symbolist tale, reimagining the story from a fresh perspective.
Enhance your experience
Insider talk – Pelléas et Mélisande: Casting and rehearsing an opera
Sunday 29 July, 2.45pm – 3.30pm, £9
Insider talks gives you a behind the-scenes glimpse in to the workings of Glyndebourne – find out more
Study event – Pelléas et Mélisande: Rewriting the rules of opera
Saturday 14 July, 10.30am–4.30pm, £40
Moderated by journalist Warwick Thompson and featuring expert talks, panel discussions and musical previews, study events are designed to give you an in-depth insight into our Festival 2018 operas. Book now
Pelléas et Mélisande is supported by André and Rosalie Hoffmann
Cast and creative team
Conductor Robin Ticciati
Director Stefan Herheim
Designer Philipp Fürhofer
Lighting Designers Stefan Herheim, Tony Simpson
Dramaturg Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Leader Pieter Schoeman
The Glyndebourne Chorus
Chorus Master Nicholas Jenkins
Assistant Conductor David Syrus
Music Preparation Michael Bawtree, Natalia Katyukova, Steven Maughan
Language Coaches Laïla Barnat, Florence Daguerre de Hureaux
Assistant Directors Sinéad O’Neill, Steven Whiting
Supertitles Daniel Dooner
Golaud Christopher Purves
Mélisande Christina Gansch
Geneviève Karen Cargill
Arkel Brindley Sherratt
Pelléas John Chest
Yniold Chloé Briot
Doctor Michael Mofidian*†
Shepherd Michael Wallace*
* Soloist from The Glyndebourne Chorus
† Jerwood Young Artist 2018
Dates and times
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Performance schedule Gardens Performance Transport Date Open Start *Long interval Finish Train departs Victoria Post opera coach Saturday 30 June
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Wednesday 4 July
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Saturday 7 July
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Wednesday 11 July
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Saturday 21 July
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Monday 23 July
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Thursday 26 July <30
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Sunday 29 July
2.00 3.45 5.30 8.00 12.46 8.55 Wednesday 1 August <30
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Saturday 4 August
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Monday 6 August <30
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15 Thursday 9 August
3.00 5.05 6.50 9.20 1.46 10.15
<30 Glyndebourne Under 30s performance
Dining and ticket option available
*Long dining interval
Our long dining interval lasts for 90 minutes
Prince Golaud, lost while out hunting, stumbles upon a beautiful young girl, frightened and weeping by a fountain. She refuses to tell him anything beyond her name, but reluctantly agrees to go with him. In his castle, King Arkel of Allemonde, Golaud’s grandfather, learns of Golaud’s marriage to Mélisande. Golaud fears to return, knowing that a political alliance would have pleased him better. Golaud’s half-brother Pelléas asks permission to leave the castle, but is refused. He must stay to greet his brother and his new bride. Golaud’s mother Geneviève introduces Mélisande to Allemonde and to Pelléas, who she asks to look after her.
Pelléas and Mélisande are by a well in the forest. Mélisande is playing with a ring Golaud gave her, throwing it high into the air. As the clock chimes noon she drops it into the water. At the same moment, Golaud is thrown from his horse while out hunting. When Mélisande comes to him he notices her ring is lost. Scared, she lies, telling him she lost it in a sea-cave. Although it is night, Golaud insists she goes to look for it, accompanied by Pelléas. Pelléas and Mélisande enter the sea-cave. At that moment the moon emerges from behind a cloud, revealing three beggars asleep just inside. Mélisande, frightened, begs to leave.
Mélisande is in a castle tower, brushing her hair. Pelléas arrives below and tells her he is leaving. He tangles himself in her hair, but Golaud catches them and tells them both off for behaving like children. Golaud takes Pelléas to a cave below the castle where it is dark and airless. He warns Pelleas to stay away from Mélisande who is now pregnant and delicate.
Golaud questions his son Yniold about Pelléas and Mélisande but the small boy knows nothing. Golaud holds him up to the window to spy on the two, but Yniold only sees them sitting and staring, not even talking. Golaud’s jealous fantasies are stirred.
Pelléas’s father is now better and he prepares to leave, asking Mélisande to meet him one last time by the well. Arkel tries to reassure Mélisande that she may yet be happy in Allemonde, but Golaud interrupts and becomes angry with her, throwing her to the ground. Pelléas and Mélisande meet by the well. They confess their love and kiss. But Golaud is waiting in the dark and stabs Pelléas, before pursuing a fleeing Mélisande and turning the knife on himself, unsuccessfully.
Mélisande has given birth to a daughter, but is dying. Golaud visits her and tries to discover the truth of her relationship with Pelléas. She innocently confesses that she loved him. Golaud is tormented. She dies, and Arkel comforts Golaud.