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Debussy - Pelleas et Melisande (2009)

Natalie Dessay , Laurent Naouri , Laurent Pelly  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Debussy - Pelleas et Melisande + Jules Massenet: Manon - Gran Teatre del Liceu 2007 + Gaetano Donizetti (La Fille du regiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly) (Royal Opera House)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Natalie Dessay, Laurent Naouri, Stephane Degout, Bertrand De Billy, Philip Ens
  • Directors: Laurent Pelly
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002S9USSU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,072 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


Natalie Dessay admitted that Mélisande poses few vocal challenges, noting that the role lies comfortably enough for both sopranos and lightweight mezzos.
Indeed, the role is vocally a good fit for her splendid, in fact. --Opera News

Product Description

Natalie Dessay, Laurent Naouri, and Stephane Degout star in this Theater an der Wien production of the Debussy opera with Bertrand de Billy conducting the Radio-SymphonieOrchester Wien and Arnold Schoenberg Chor.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Degout and Dessay are Pelleas et Melisande January 19, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have to agree with the critics who found Laurent Pelly's production for Theater an der Wien of Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande missing too many elements to be considered a great one. Still, that should not deter any fan of the opera (or the curious) from spending time with it as there remains PLENTY to rejoice about. The set is worth owning for the performers, if not the setting. Though Pelly seems to be bumbling in the dark at times, he still has found moments - and is blessed with a marvelous cast of singers/actors.

As blind old King Arkel, poor Phillip Ens seems to have been practically forgotten by Pelly for most of the opera, and spends the evening sweeping the floor with the hem of his too-long and heavy looking overcoat as he shuffles along in bad ol' generic "old man" business (think Tim Conway on the Carol Burnett Show). Vocally, the voice is often beautiful. His interaction with Melisande is touching (the line "If I were God, I would take pity on the hearts of men" delivered with genuine poignancy. Ens's Arkel dominates the final scene with great lyrical beauty of sound and seems to believe every word he was singing. So did I.

Laurent Naouri (Dessay's husband) gives a properly brooding and confused performance of Golaud that wavers between subtlety and over-the-top - which is not a bad choice for this complex, tortured character. The curtain drops too quickly after the murder of his brother, but it appears that this Golaud has a crazed smile that would have been a nice touch to see more of. His abuse and foiled attempt of raping Melisande is enough to make a viewer cringe. A good Golaud will always make me pity him for his life choices and uncontrollable temper, and Naouri does the job well.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very French Pelleas January 14, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Who would have though in the year 2009 in Vienna a Pelleas et Melisande would appear with an almost French cast and a French Conductor yet that is exactly what we have in this most recent DVD from Virgin Classics. Is it the best sung Pelleas available? Well, perhaps not, but the overall excellence of the performance pulls in any slack that is evident as regards the singing.

First off, I must admit that I would never have guessed that Laurent Pelly was the director considering that most of his work has centered around the operettas of Offenbach and La Fille. The most successful of these is Belle Helene. For the most part I have found them "overdirected" frenetic and ultimately not very funny. I have no criticism of his direction here and am pleased that he is a better director than I would have assumed. Of course I must admit that my exposure to his work is restricted to DVD's and no doubt I am only seeing a fraction of his work.

Classic mise-en-scene for Pelleas is usually Belle Epoque/Arte Nouveau. This is not what we have here (nor is it the case of the TDK DVD from Zurich); vaguely late 19th century, but no attempt at realism as regards a forest, a grotto by the sea, etc. The Theater an der Wien has a rotating stage and sets for the many scenes are more a suggestion in that only a portion is constructed, that which is needed drammatically. This is far from Regie Konzept and should scare no auditor off--if you demand Regie go to Zurich for the work of Sven-Eric-Bechtoff: the production is beautifully sung but the Konzept is ridiculous.

Probably the best singing comes from Stephane Degout, possessor of a beautiful pliant voice, rich and warm; he is also available in a DVD of Cosi from Aix: excellent. Dessay makes a wonderful Melisande both vocally and dramatically.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pelleas and Melisande October 4, 2010
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Let me start by saying that Pelleas et Melisande has never been my favorite opera. In fact, being an affezionata of almost exclusively Italian opera with some Wagner thrown in for good measure, I find some of Debussy's music hard to swallow. However, I was attracted by the names of the singers - also by the fact that they were all French and wouldn't mangle the language - and finally, because of the attractive price. So I decided to take the plunge.
I agree with previous reviewers that the production could stand improvement.
But then, there are the singers: Natalie Dessay, Laurent Naouri and Stephane Degout with Bertrand de Billy at the helm.
I have rarely been so involved and so deeply affected by any opera. These singing actors were simply superb in every respect and the opera somehow "stayed with me" for several days.
I will never buy another "Pelleas et Melisande" so I will never have anything with which I can compare this DVD but I am firmly convinced that it is beyond comparison anyway.
Whether you are a lover of this opera or not , please do yourself a favor and add this particular version to your collection - unless, of course, you already own it - or get just this one. You'll never regret it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great cast! October 24, 2010
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Natalie Dessay is an ideal Melisande. Stephane Degout is a model Pelleas. Together they are great.Mr. Naouri(Ms. Dessay's real-life husband) is convincing as Golaud and has a beautiful voice. This is a very satisfying performance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The embodiment of a great music drama June 13, 2014
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Pelleas et Melisande is a landmark, a unique opera that is both difficult and rewarding. The mood is etherial, almost like a thin veil or a hummingbird. Push it too hard and it flies away. Admire its beauty and it becomes even more stirring.

This video of a live performance features Natalie Dessay and her for-real husband Laurent Naouri as Melisande and her husband Golaud. Stephane Degout is Pelleas. The whole story is cloaked in mystery. Who IS Melisande? Where did she come from? Why is she lost in a forest? She reveals only that she has been profoundly hurt by "Tous, tous!" She is clearly grateful to Golaud for rescuing her but she does not love him. Instead, she falls in love with his younger brother Pelleas. The love is chaste and is clearly doomed.

Dessay is best at shimmering roles like Melisande, and shimmer she does here. A viewer may feel she'll disappear. Naouri is stolid and increasingly angry as Golaud to the point where his torture of his wife is a bit too real. In the end he is torn apart by guilt, shame, and remorse. Like Cain, he has killed his own brother. And now he must raise their child--a child he suspects may not be his own.

Bertrand de Billy is a splendid conductor who leads the large orchestra through a profoundly difficult score. It is worth every second.
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