In the imagined land of Allemonde…

… stands a gloomy castle. Enclosed by dark, impenetrable forest and the sea, it is ruled over by the old, blind king of Allemonde, Arkël. Into this portentous, crepuscular atmosphere Prince Golaud brings his mysterious young bride, Mélisande…

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While Debussy had, by this time, almost escaped from under the long shadow cast by Wagner, it is still (easily) possible to find examples of Wagnerian leitmotif technique in Pelléas; here are three for you to memorise from the very opening of the opera:

Pelleas 1

Pelleas 2

Melisande

Arkël: Il n’arrive peut-être pas d’évènements inutiles.
[Perhaps nothing that happens is meaningless.]

Maurice Maeterlinck: Pelléas et Mélisande

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