Claude Debussy's opera 'Pelléas et Mélisande' premièred in 1902 and is regarded as a very special masterpiece, albeit a solitary one. The composer’s relationship with opera however was not as distanced as one could suppose from focusing on this single work which is in fact not an isolated component within the artist’s oeuvre. • Plans existed for further operatic projects and Debussy devoted himself intensely to two operas based on texts by Edgar Allan Poe during the last few years of his life which were dominated by ill health. He continued working on 'The Fall of the House of Usher' until shortly before his death and was distraught at not being able to complete this composition. 'The Devil in the Belfry' has only survived in sketch form. The English musicologist Robert Orledge, a renowned expert within the field of French music, reconstructed both operas with great sensitivity to Debussy’s compositional style, augmenting missing passages. • Debussy had promised the New York Metropolitan Opera the premiere of the Poe operas, apparently still believing that he would still complete them both. The composer received contractual confirmation that both works would only be performed consecutively on the same evening, meaning that the gloomy melancholy of one work would serve as a counterweight to the mocking humour of the other. This production featuring the Göttinger Symphonie Orchester is therefore a world première: according to Debussy’s wishes, the two operas would have been performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera in this exact juxtaposition.
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Debussy: The Edgar Allan Poe Operas
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