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Past Images of the Month - August 2018

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The 150th anniversary of Debussy's birth was the occasion for a display of first editions in the Museum's collection (click here to see Image of the Month for June 2012).  To commemorate the centenary of his death in March this year we show here pages from the very rare Mise-en-Scène for Pelléas et Mélisande.  Debussy's only opera, to a text by Maurice Maeterlinck, received its premiere at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra Comique on 30 April 1902.  The production remained a classic for some thirty years and many of the performances, notably that of the Scottish soprano Mary Garden as Mélisande, are remembered as legendary.

This copy of the Mise-en-Scène belonged to Lisa Perli (pseudonym of the English soprano Dora Labbette), who gave three performances of the role under Beecham in the Covent Garden Coronation Season of 1937.

(Please click the thumbnails below to view larger image)

Mary Garden as Mélisande in Act 1, Scene 3. Photograph by Davis & Sanford Co, New York. Garden appeared in the American premiere at the Manhattan Opera House on 19 February 1908. Copies of all the original sets and costumes were used for this production which featured most of the first Paris cast.

Click here to view Mary Garden as our Image of the Month for January 2017.


First three pages of the Mise-en-Scène for Act 1, Scene 1 : A Forest.

First three pages of the Mise-en-Scène for Act 1, Scene 3 : The Terrace in front of the Castle.

First three pages of the Mise-en-Scène, Act 3, Scene 1 : One of the castle towers, with a pathway passing under a tower window.


Lisa Perli as Mélisande. Photograph by Dorothy Wilding. London, [1937?].