Iconoclast Dmitri Tcherniakov, four-time winner of Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask award, is one of the most exciting directors working today, adroitly recontextualizing canonical works and inciting audiences to engage with familiar material in unfamiliar ways. A year before his 2017 staging of Carmen reframed the action as a roleplaying exercise for a man suffering from sexual dysfunction, he tackled Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, “the masterpiece of French symbolism” (Grove Music), from a different psychological angle.
In this strikingly modern 2016 production from the Zurich Opera House, Tcherniakov transposes the opera’s intrigue from forest and castle to living room and psychiatric office. The love story of the original work remains riveting, but Tcherniakov brings an unexpected psychological element to his mise en scène, with Prince Golaud as a psychiatrist and Mélisande as a young woman suffering from PTSD. You’ve never seen Pelléas like this!
A documentary-opera by Philippe Béziat