Impressions de Pelléas


A.J. FLETCHER OPERA INSTITUTE, UNCSA (2018)
The American Prize (2019): Winner for University Opera Production

National Opera Association Award (2019): 3rd Place in Category 8
World Premiere of newly orchestrated version

Impressions de Pelléas
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Impressions de Pelléas
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photos courtesy of Peter Mueller

IMPRESSIONS DE PELLÉAS by Claude Debussy/Marius Constant/Peter Brook
based on the play by Maurice Maeterlinck
Conductor: 
Christopher Allen
Cast: 
Wright/Smidt, René/Jackson, Butterman, Felty, Trotter/Marion
Production: 
D. Girard (Stage Combat), J. Harbeck (Scenery), E. Chaffer (Clothes), D. DeSalvio (Lighting), A. Kochanek (Hair/Make-up)

“Imagine an opera without arias, duets or ensemble pieces. Such was the work released on the world of music in 1902 by the iconoclast French composer Claude Debussy and the Belgian mystic playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. Ever since I was introduced to Pelléas et Mélisande (as a conservatory student in Brussels), I have lusted after the opera, which is very low (74th) on the list of most popular opera productions in the world. Yet when it is performed, cognoscenti pack the theaters, often traveling long distances as when the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute of the North Carolina School of the Arts announced plans to produce a version of Debussy’s masterpiece.

In 1992, theatre producer and director Peter Brook and French composer Marius Constant shortened the original five-act opera to 100 minutes with no intermissions, cut the full orchestra down to just two pianos, and retitled the work, Impressions de  Pelléas. (Two  years ago, the Fletcher Opera Institute presented an award-winning production, also directed by Nic Muni, of Brook’s and Constant’s version of La Tragédie de Carmen.) UNCSA’s composition students (with permission from the publishers) further retouched Constant’s reduction, adding a flute , a cello and percussion to the two pianos. While the dozen scenes are strung together by continuous music, as in the original opera, the director of the production, Nic Muni (in his third year as artistic director of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute), uses lighting to effectively break up the stage of Agnes de Mille Theatre into the various locations indicated by the libretto and, in particular, uses lighting and shadows to enact the tricky “hair scene” in which Mélisande mingles her dangling hair with the shadow of Pelleas’ hand on the wall outside her window.”
– Peter Perret, CVNC (March, 2018)

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