Music of introverted tenderness and a libretto that hints at much and offers few answers - such is Pelléas et Mélisande, Claude Debussy s only completed opera, based on the play of the same name by the Symbolist and Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck. Staged in Essen s Aalto Theatre, this pioneering work of early modern times was a landmark. Conductor Stefan Soltesz knows how to highlight these sensualist Debussy colours, let melody blossom, enthral with the magic of sound. And when these seraphic tones ring out from a stage flooded with light, we cannot help but leave the world far behind , wrote the critics. The consummately precise staging by veteran stage director Nikolaus Lehnhoff has a cast to match these wondrous sounds. The characters seem to float through the scenes, bringing to the stage the unspeakable, the negation and extinction of their feelings, showing the people of this story in inescapable solitude. This production stars the young South African baritone Jacques Imbrailo as Pelléas and Michaela Selinger as Mélisande, as well as Vincent Le Texier and Doris Soffel.
This exceptional production achieves [...] what actually can only be understood as magic. (Die Welt)
The actual sensation however is the classic, cold splendour coming from the stage setting and the character direction that allows only one kind of reaction: catharsis, heartache. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung)