O Met, em reprise, apresenta a famosa produção de Pelléas et Mélisande, assinada por Jonathan Miller. À frente de um elenco absolutamente ímpar, Simon Rattle estreia-se na sala nova-iorquina.
«It took until he was 55, but Simon Rattle finally made his Metropolitan Opera debut on Friday night. Mr. Rattle, who has been a major conductor for 30 years and the artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002, led the season premiere of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” a revival of Jonathan Miller’s gothic 1995 production. At the end of this four-hour evening, some of the most ardent participants in the ovation for Mr. Rattle were the musicians in the orchestra pit, who stood and heartily applauded.
In perhaps the most impressive performance I have heard Mr. Rattle give, he drew lush and plangent yet clear-textured and purposeful playing from the great Met orchestra. He was blessed with what he described in an interview on “Charlie Rose” on Thursday night as a “dream cast”: the elegant French baritone Stéphane Degout as Pelléas, the alluring Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena (Mr. Rattle’s wife) as Mélisande, and the intelligent Canadian baritone Gerald Finley as Prince Golaud.
Debussy’s mysterious opera, first performed in Paris in 1902, is an elusive and unconventional music drama. Adapted from the Symbolist play by Maurice Maeterlinck about the troubled family of an aged king in an imaginary realm, “Pelléas et Mélisande” is a masterpiece of ambiguity. Some conductors bring out the Wagnerian harmonic textures and dark orchestral colorings of the work. When called for, there was Wagnerian richness and impressionist fluidity in Mr. Rattle’s performance.
Yet, in the manner of Pierre Boulez, an acclaimed exponent of this work, Mr. Rattle kept the textures lucid and focused, even when Debussy’s chords were thick with notes. Debussy tucked some piercing dissonances inside these milky harmonies, and Mr. Rattle brought them out through the pinpoint accuracy he elicited from the inspired Met players.
For all his intelligence, though, Mr. Rattle is an intensely dramatic musician. I have never heard a “Pelléas” in which the extremes of the score came through so vividly. You could sense the simmering below the deceptively subdued surface.
In the first scene the melancholic middle-aged Prince Golaud, who is lost in a forest, chances upon Mélisande, a weeping young woman full of fears and secrets. Mr. Rattle conducted the parallel orchestra chords that open the opera and the modal themes that slowly unfold with haunting serenity at a daringly slow tempo.
In an impulsive act that is neither depicted nor explained, Mélisande marries the older Golaud. Yet, from the time they meet, Pelléas and Mélisande are drawn to each other, a sensual current that runs through this restless score. In Act IV, when they can no longer constrain their illicit attraction and confess their love, Mr. Rattle brought out all of the music’s teeming intensity and fitful shifts.
Mélisande is a good role for the lovely Ms. Kozena. The tenderness of her singing could not disguise the inner emotional chaos of this strange young woman: a victim, yes, but also a compulsive liar who remains an enigma to the end. Mr. Degout brought a warm, youthful voice and stylistic insight to Pelléas, conveying the character’s tragic path from the uptight younger half-brother of an imperious prince to a hopeless romantic with uncontrollable longing for his brother’s wife.
Mr. Finley, who triumphed at the Met in the title role of John Adams’s “Doctor Atomic,” was superb as Golaud. While not overpowering, his voice is dark, virile and generous. He is that rare operatic artist who even when singing lyrically, sounds like he is speaking with the directness of a great actor.
The bass-baritone Willard White made a poignant Arkel, the old king. The mezzo-soprano Felicity Palmer gave a wrenching performance as Geneviève, the mother of Golaud and Pelléas who is helpless to prevent their fratricidal passions. And the excellent boy soprano Neel Ram Nagarajan was heartbreaking as Yniold, Golaud’s son by his first wife, whose is forced by his bullying father to spy on his Uncle Pelléas and his new mother Mélisande.
Mr. Miller’s production, with sets by John Conklin, fashions a visual symbolism to match the thematic symbolism of the opera. This royal family, in vaguely Victorian dress, lives in a run-down mansion, which rotates onstage to reveal stuffy rooms, forbidding exteriors and marbled arcades.
The Met has scheduled only five performances of “Pelléas et “Mélisande” with this cast and Mr. Rattle. Now that he has arrived at the Met, he must come back.»