Claude Debussy: Pelléas Et Mélisande

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 27, 1989 - Music - 209 pages
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The first comprehensive guide to Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy's only completed opera, this book is written by three of the leading authorities on French music of the period. As a background to the opera Richard Langham Smith discusses the play, by the Belgian dramatist Maeterlinck, and considers its literary roots. David Grayson then traces the genesis and composition of the opera, examining also the sketches and rejected versions in order to illuminate Debussy's compositional strategies. A detailed synopsis by Roger Nichols, which considers carefully Debussy's musical response to the text, forms a central chapter. The book then moves on to consider more detailed aspects of the style and language of the opera. The relationship between symbols and musical motives forms the basis of a chapter by Richard Langham Smith, and a subsequent chapter by him considers the themes of darkness and light and the key-schemes used to portray them. Two chapters by Roger Nichols on the various performances since 1902 and on the ideas of interpreters and commentators complete the text. The book concludes with a detailed bibliography and a discography.
  

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Contents

The play and its playwright
1
The opera genesis and sources
30
Synopsis
62
Motives and symbols
78
Tonalities of darkness and light
107
Pelleas in performance I a history
140
Pelleas in performance II ideals and enigmas
169
Appendix
184
Notes
187
Select bibliography
198
Discography
204
Index
206
Copyright

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About the author (1989)

Roger Nichols is a writer & broadcaster, specializing in French music of the nineteenth & twentieth centuries. He is the author of "Ravel Remembered" (Faber, 2000) & "Conversations with Madeleine Milhaud" (Faber, 1996).

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