26, 27, 28 April 2018 | Minard, Ghent
3, 4, 5 May 2018 | Kunsthuis Opera Vlaanderen, Antwerp
Once upon a time, there was a lonely prince called Golaud. Wandering around in the forest, he heard someone cry. It turned out to be a small, beautiful, soft flower, called Mélissande, lying on the riverbank. She’d been plucked and simply thrown away. Wanting to help her, Golaud took her to his castle in the kingdom of Allemonde. The kingdom was a dark place; the landscape was dry and bleak. Golaud put Mélissande in a vase, and gave her water every day.
All were fascinated by Mélissande’s beauty. Prince Pelléas, Golaud’s younger halfbrother, immediately fell in love with her too. Golaud, however, wanted to keep her only for himself: he put her under a bell jar. People could look at her, but not touch her. But Mélissande was very unhappy, and lost ever more of her power. Prince Pelléas took pity on her. He opened the bell jar and led her outside to the Source of the Blind. There, she drenched her soft hair and regained her power. For a moment, Mélissande was happy again, and she became even more beautiful.
When prince Golaud saw Mélissande’s beautiful figure, he became very jealous and forbade Pelléas to come near her again; he ordered him to leave Allemonde. While Golaud became ever angrier, Mélissande became ever more fragile and soft. Her dress of hair became ever longer and whiter, yet she herself turned ever more ill and brittle. Golaud confronted her: he wanted her to belong to him alone. In his anger, Golaud raised such a strong wind that Mélissande’s beautiful white hair started swirling around in all directions. Thus, Mélissande disappeared, but her beautiful hair spread across the land and changed the entire kingdom into a beautiful, succulent, green landscape.
Note on the story: Mélissande represents nature. Golaud represents the selfish human being, who claims ownership of nature. This relationship has destructive consequences.
Equally fascinated by Mélissande – who has become the most radiant being in the dark kingdom of Allemonde – Pelléas recognises her vulnerability and would like to help. He is completely taken by her beauty, yet knows that he cannot own her. This conflict tears Mélissande apart, and ultimately destroys her. And yet, her death brings new life to the land. All recognise that nature hasn’t been left to human beings by their ancestors, but is actually on loan to them by their grandchildren, and has to be given back undisturbed.