The Pelléas et Mélisande project
The Pelléas et Mélisande project is based on Pierre Audi’s proposal to investigate possible adaptations of the opera Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy for film and other media with an interdisciplinary group of participants (graduates and postgraduates of the Amsterdam academies of theatre, dance, music, film and architecture). The principal inspiration for this project is Audi’s belief that there have been few successful adaptations of opera for film, while the blending of these two relatively modern artistic disciplines could contribute to the development of a unique form of storytelling, one that encompasses musical as well as textual and visual elements. He is strongly motivated by his misgivings following the failure of his first film scenario for Pelléas et Mélisande. As he describes: ‘It is an enormous challenge to adapt opera and music theatre for film. Very few attempts have been truly successful. Those that have been, have taken great risks to achieve their goal. I realised in the process of trying to complete the Pelléas script that I needed to search further in new territories to carry the story, the music and the characters. I wondered whether such new territories could be found by opening up the problems to more people.’ Audi challenges the participants to clarify their own motivation for their involvement in this research project rather than referring to his original postulation.
This led to five collaborations and five different visions. Alone, none of these provided an answer to Audi’s dilemma, but they complemented each other, and together they offered a perspective on the complexity surrounding such opera adaptations.
About Pierre Audi
Pierre Audi is the artistic director of The Netherlands Opera (DNO). He has directed major and much-talked about opera and theatre productions at DNO and elsewhere. The awards he has received include the Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund Theatre Award; the Prix d’Amis, for Wagner’s Ring Cycle; and in Drottningholm he was presented with the medal of honour, for his productions of work by Handel. Audi is a Knight of both the Order of the Dutch Lion and the French National Order of the Legion of Honour. In 2001, Audi completed his first work for cinema, For Birth or Death, based on the works of Sir Benjamin Britten. Since 2005, Audi has additionally been responsible for programming the Holland Festival.