Pelléas and Mélisande

Pelléas and Mélisande
Sarah Bernhardt - Pelleas et Melisandre.png
Sarah Bernhardt in Pelléas et Mélisande
Written byMaurice Maeterlinck
CharactersArkël, king of Allemonde
Geneviève, mother of Pelléas and Golaud
Pelléas, grandson of Arkël
Golaud, grandson of Arkël
Mélisande
Little Yniold, son of Golaud (by a former marriage)
Physician
Porter
Servants
Beggars
Date premiered17 May 1893 (1893-05-17)
GenreSymbolism

Pelléas and Mélisande (French: Pelléas et Mélisande) is a Symbolist play by Maurice Maeterlinck about the forbidden, doomed love of the title characters. It was first performed in 1893.

The work was very popular. It was adapted as an opera by the composer Claude Debussy, and it inspired other contemporary composers, for instance, Gabriel Fauré, Arnold Schoenberg, and Jean Sibelius.

Synopsis

Golaud finds Mélisande by a stream in the woods. She has lost her crown in the water but does not wish to retrieve it. They marry, and she instantly wins the favor of Arkël, Golaud's grandfather and king of Allemonde, who is ill. She falls in love with Pelléas, Golaud's brother. They meet by the fountain, where Mélisande loses her wedding ring. Golaud grows suspicious of the lovers, has his son Yniold spy on them, and discovers them caressing, whereupon he kills Pelléas and wounds Mélisande. She later dies after giving birth to an abnormally small girl.