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François-Xavier Roth|Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

François-Xavier Roth, Les Siècles, Vannina Santoni, Julien Behr, Alexandre Duhamel, Marie-Ange Todorovitch, Jean Teitgen, Chœur de l'Opéra de Lille

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Chief conductor of Les Siècles symphony orchestra, François-Xavier Roth has been revisiting French music from the beginning of the 20th century for several years now, taking care to honour both the original instruments and to find melodies that favour even greater clarity of timbre and attack. After his incredible recordings of Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky’s first work (special mention to the superb complete version of L’Oiseau de feu), everyone naturally expected the conductor to perform Pelléas et Mélisande, the opera he conducted at the very beginning of his career which is particularly close to his heart.

This new version of Debussy’s masterpiece was recorded on the 20th and 21st of March 2021 at the Opéra de Lille. As one might expect, the orchestra, which is present throughout the score (it conveys emotion and feeling in the style of Wagner and Mussorgsky) is given pride of place by François-Xavier Roth, who transforms this strange opera into some sort of secular oratorio.

As for the singers, it’s a real treat to hear French voices in the two main roles. Vannina Santoni’s portrayal of Mélisande is refreshing, and she makes the character less naïve than previous interpretations have done. She asserts herself in the forest scene at the beginning of the piece and later, in the final scene, she confidently declares to Pelléas "I only lie to your brother!". Pelléas is personified by a tenor voice and not by a light baritone as intended by Debussy (in fact, he sounds much like Eric Tappy in Armin Jordan’s beautiful version of Erato). Thanks to Julien Behr’s stellar performance, the character comes across as fragile and overwhelmed by his ill-fated destiny. Alexandre Duhamel’s touching portrayal of Golaud reveals a gritty character who is undeniably relatable, despite being consumed by an ardent jealousy that ultimately causes him to murder his younger brother and, indirectly, Mélisande. Jean Teitgen is a less dogmatic Arkel than usual. Literally and figuratively blind, it’s as though he has no understanding of what’s happening within the castle and is unable to escape the confines of his own, outdated idealism. Marie-Ange Todorovitch does a good job playing the difficult and often overlooked role of Geneviève, whose appearances, though infrequent, are pivotal.

Finally, it should be noted that François-Xavier Roth uses the definitive and complete version of the opera, which includes the few bars that fell victim to censorship in 1902. As such, viewers can rediscover the confronting dialogue between Golaud and his son Yniold, whom he uses to spy on Mélisande when she’s in her bedroom. 

“What about the bed? Are they close to the bed?” asks Golaud in the height of his jealousy. 

Thanks to its poetic dimension and fantastic cast, this new version easily rivals those by Désormière, Inghelbrecht, Ansermet, Armin Jordan, Karajan and Abbado. © François Hudry/Qobuz

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Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

François-Xavier Roth

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Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 1 scène 1 (Claude Debussy)

1
Je ne pourrai plus sortir de cette forêt (Golaud)
Les Siècles
00:03:39

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

2
Pourquoi pleures-tu ? (Golaud, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:06:24

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

3
Interlude I
Les Siècles
00:03:22

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 1 scène 2 (Claude Debussy)

4
Voici ce qu'il écrit à son frère Pelléas (Geneviève)
Les Siècles
00:02:59

Claude Debussy, Composer - Marie-Ange Todorovitch, MainArtist, MezzoSopranoVocals - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

5
Qu'en dites-vous ? (Geneviève, Arkel, Pelléas)
Les Siècles
00:05:51

Claude Debussy, Composer - Marie-Ange Todorovitch, MainArtist, MezzoSopranoVocals - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Jean Teitgen, MainArtist, BassVocals - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

6
Interlude II
Les Siècles
00:02:01

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 1 scène 3 (Claude Debussy)

7
Il fait sombre dans les jardins (Mélisande, Geneviève, Pelléas)
Les Siècles
00:02:44

Claude Debussy, Composer - Marie-Ange Todorovitch, MainArtist, MezzoSopranoVocals - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

8
Ohé ! Hisse, ohé ! (chœur, Mélisande, Pelléas, Geneviève)
Les Siècles
00:04:04

Claude Debussy, Composer - Marie-Ange Todorovitch, MainArtist, MezzoSopranoVocals - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo - Chœur de l'Opéra de Lille, Choir, MainArtist

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 2 (Claude Debussy)

9
Interlude III
Les Siècles
00:00:46

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 2 scène 1 (Claude Debussy)

10
Vous ne savez pas où je vous ai menée ? (Pelléas, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:02:57

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

11
C'est au bord d'une fontaine aussi qu'il vous a trouvée ? (Pelléas, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:03:05

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

12
Interlude IV
Les Siècles
00:02:57

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 2 scène 2 (Claude Debussy)

13
Ah ! Ah ! Tout va bien, cela ne sera rien (Golaud, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:05:34

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

14
Ne peux-tu pas te faire à la vie qu'on mène ici ? (Golaud, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:05:19

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

15
Interlude V
Les Siècles
00:02:33

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 2 scène 3 (Claude Debussy)

16
Oui, c'est ici, nous y sommes (Pelléas, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:05:09

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

DISC 2

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 3 scène 1 (Claude Debussy)

1
Mes longs cheveux descendent jusqu'au seuil de la tour! (Pelléas, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:05:59

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

2
Oh! Oh! Qu'est-ce que c'est? (Pelléas, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:04:27

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

3
Laisse-moi! Laisse-moi relever la tête… (Mélisande, Pelléas, Golaud)
Les Siècles
00:03:52

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 3 scène 2 (Claude Debussy)

4
Prenez garde! Par ici, par ici (Golaud, Pelléas)
Les Siècles
00:03:47

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 3 scène 3 (Claude Debussy)

5
Ah! Je respire enfin! (Pelléas, Golaud)
Les Siècles
00:04:35

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 3 scène 4 (Claude Debussy)

6
Viens, nous allons nous asseoir ici, Yniold (Golaud, Yniold)
Les Siècles
00:07:00

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals - Hadrien Joubert, MainArtist, SopranoSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

7
Non, non, mon enfant (Golaud, Yniold)
Les Siècles
00:03:29

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals - Hadrien Joubert, MainArtist, SopranoSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

DISC 3

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 4 scène 1 (Claude Debussy)

1
Où vas-tu? Il faut que je te parle ce soir (Pelléas, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:02:58

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 4 scène 2 (Claude Debussy)

2
Maintenant que le père de Pelléas est sauvé (Arkel, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:05:52

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Jean Teitgen, MainArtist, BassVocals - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

3
Pelléas part ce soir (Golaud, Arkel, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:06:56

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Jean Teitgen, MainArtist, BassVocals - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

4
Interlude VI
Les Siècles
00:03:35

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 4 scène 3 (Claude Debussy)

5
Oh! Cette pierre est lourde... (Yniold, Un Berger)
Les Siècles
00:04:04

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Hadrien Joubert, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Mathieu Gourlet, MainArtist, BassVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 4 scène 4 (Claude Debussy)

6
C'est le dernier soir, le dernier soir... (Pelléas)
Les Siècles
00:01:57

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

7
Pelléas... (Mélisande, Pelléas)
Les Siècles
00:04:15

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

8
On dirait que ta voix a passé sur la mer au printemps… (Pelléas, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:04:13

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

9
Quel est ce bruit? (Pelléas, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:04:25

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Julien Behr, MainArtist, TenorSolo

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Pelléas et Mélisande, L. 88, Acte 5 (Claude Debussy)

10
Ce n'est pas de cette petite blessure qu'elle peut mourir (Le Médecin, Arkel, Golaud)
Les Siècles
00:03:34

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Jean Teitgen, MainArtist, BassVocals - Damien Pass, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

11
Ouvrez la fenêtre, ouvrez la fenêtre… (Mélisande, Arkel, Le Médecin, Golaud)
Les Siècles
00:06:01

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Jean Teitgen, MainArtist, BassVocals - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Damien Pass, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

12
Mélisande, as-tu pitié de moi? (Golaud, Mélisande)
Les Siècles
00:04:12

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

13
La vérité… La vérité… (Mélisande, Golaud, Arkel)
Les Siècles
00:04:16

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Jean Teitgen, MainArtist, BassVocals - Vannina Santoni, MainArtist, SopranoSolo - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

14
Qu'y a-t-il? (Golaud, Le Médecin, Arkel)
Les Siècles
00:02:10

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Jean Teitgen, MainArtist, BassVocals - Damien Pass, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

15
Vous ne savez pas ce que c'est que l'âme… (Golaud, Arkel, Le Médecin)
Les Siècles
00:06:34

Claude Debussy, Composer - Les Siècles, Orchestra, MainArtist - François-Xavier Roth, Conductor, MainArtist - Jean Teitgen, MainArtist, BassVocals - Damien Pass, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals - Alexandre Duhamel, MainArtist, BaritoneVocals

2022 harmonia mundi 2022 harmonia mundi / Les Siècles

Album Description

Chief conductor of Les Siècles symphony orchestra, François-Xavier Roth has been revisiting French music from the beginning of the 20th century for several years now, taking care to honour both the original instruments and to find melodies that favour even greater clarity of timbre and attack. After his incredible recordings of Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky’s first work (special mention to the superb complete version of L’Oiseau de feu), everyone naturally expected the conductor to perform Pelléas et Mélisande, the opera he conducted at the very beginning of his career which is particularly close to his heart.

This new version of Debussy’s masterpiece was recorded on the 20th and 21st of March 2021 at the Opéra de Lille. As one might expect, the orchestra, which is present throughout the score (it conveys emotion and feeling in the style of Wagner and Mussorgsky) is given pride of place by François-Xavier Roth, who transforms this strange opera into some sort of secular oratorio.

As for the singers, it’s a real treat to hear French voices in the two main roles. Vannina Santoni’s portrayal of Mélisande is refreshing, and she makes the character less naïve than previous interpretations have done. She asserts herself in the forest scene at the beginning of the piece and later, in the final scene, she confidently declares to Pelléas "I only lie to your brother!". Pelléas is personified by a tenor voice and not by a light baritone as intended by Debussy (in fact, he sounds much like Eric Tappy in Armin Jordan’s beautiful version of Erato). Thanks to Julien Behr’s stellar performance, the character comes across as fragile and overwhelmed by his ill-fated destiny. Alexandre Duhamel’s touching portrayal of Golaud reveals a gritty character who is undeniably relatable, despite being consumed by an ardent jealousy that ultimately causes him to murder his younger brother and, indirectly, Mélisande. Jean Teitgen is a less dogmatic Arkel than usual. Literally and figuratively blind, it’s as though he has no understanding of what’s happening within the castle and is unable to escape the confines of his own, outdated idealism. Marie-Ange Todorovitch does a good job playing the difficult and often overlooked role of Geneviève, whose appearances, though infrequent, are pivotal.

Finally, it should be noted that François-Xavier Roth uses the definitive and complete version of the opera, which includes the few bars that fell victim to censorship in 1902. As such, viewers can rediscover the confronting dialogue between Golaud and his son Yniold, whom he uses to spy on Mélisande when she’s in her bedroom. 

“What about the bed? Are they close to the bed?” asks Golaud in the height of his jealousy. 

Thanks to its poetic dimension and fantastic cast, this new version easily rivals those by Désormière, Inghelbrecht, Ansermet, Armin Jordan, Karajan and Abbado. © François Hudry/Qobuz

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