Pelléas et Mélisande

Last night with D to the concert performance by the Sydney Symphony of Pelléas et Mélisande.

Although the two tickets that I picked up just a day or so before were shown on the booking plan as the only free pair of seats in the stalls, there were quite a lot of empty seats at the start. Some of these were filled by latecomers who overlooked the 7pm start, but I got the impression there was a bit of an interval exodus to offset this. As ever, it seems that a segment of the SSO subscriber base is simply not so keen on vocal works, even though this was conducted by Charles Dutoit, and even though the orchestra plays such a prominent role.

In terms of plot and incident, the opera is a bit slow – it’s symbolism rather than drama, though things get moving a bit more in about acts III and IV. The strongest impression one gets is the atmosphere of a remote place in a distant time – you really feel that a whole world is created. It’s hard to put your finger on why this is so but in away the elusiveness yet distinctinveness of the atmosphere and the music is exactly the point.

I’m going again tonight and am very much looking forward to it.

Update, 1 July

I went and, despite an unwelcome work-related thought which stole up on me and I found impossible to banish for an entire scene, enjoyed it very much. This afternoon I was able to hear about half on ABC “Classic” FM, where Saturday’s performance remains available to listen to again for the next 28 days.

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