pelleas and melisande

Sarah Bernhardt and Mrs Patrick Campbell in Pelleas and Melisande, Vaudeville Theatre, London, 1904. V&A.

Sarah Bernhardt invited Mrs Patrick Campbell to repeat her 1898 success as Melisande in Maeterlinck’s romance Pelleas and Melisande, this time opposite Sarah herself as the male Pelleas. This photograph of them is signed by Bernhardt. Mrs Campbell had to learn to act in French (‘How dared I?’ she later wondered), but the chemistry between the two made for a great success.

I know of the leafy paths that the witches take
Who come with their crowns of pearl and their spindles of wool, And their secret smile, out of the depths of the lake; I know where a dim moon drifts, where the Danaan kind Wind and unwind their dances when the light grows cool On the island lawns, their feet where the pale foam gleams.


Mary Garden as Melisande from the Opera “Pelleas and Melisande” - Davis and Eickemeyer - c. 1908


Pelleas und Melisande, symphonic poem, Op. 5

Sinfonie-Orchester des Südwestfunks Baden-Baden
Bruno Maderna

When Schoenberg started work on this piece in 1902, he was unaware that an opera by Debussy on the same subject was about to open in Paris. One of his early tonal masterpieces, Pelleas und Melisande contains the first notated trombone glissando in the common practice orchestral literature.