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This piece is based on the opera “Pelleas et Melisande” by Debussy and Maeterlinck. music, atmosphere and symbols are quoted in this new work as if they were elements coming from a dream. It is Melisande’s inner world which speaks in the language of the subconscious: the perception of reality is distorted like the sound of the instruments playing under the water. Many voices are speaking through Melisande: the husband, the lover and her own voice, coming from a restless dream with a concealed meaning.

This work was part of a one year workshop with Pierre Audi at the AHK, Amsterdam. During the whole year people from different disciplines were discussing different approaches and “re-inventions” of the Debussy’s opera Pelleas et Melisande with text by Maeterlinck.

The outcome of the workshop was a presentation were different installations, projections, readings and concerts were shown in different rooms of the building.

My work was a piece in the form of a coached improvisation.I worked with four musicians: voice, clarinet, trumpet, percussion. I chose them as well and I find that the decision about who was going to play was part of the composition.  It was not the same to play with one clarinet player or another. I presented a general structure and musical materials on top of which they could improvise. I used many of the resources they brought, organizing and framing them in a general structure.

I should say that the result was related to a long process of “researching around” the opera for one year, but at the same time it had the fragility of the moment. I do not feel comfortable with this kind of experiences. I realize that I like to explore all the instances beforehand and make my decisions by writing down what I want on a score. It seems to me in relation to my ideas and my musical language, that this coached improvisation is like building a very complex sand castle, having the engineering of a real one, but the futility of the moment. The musicians and their own talents are part of this construction.

I personally prefer to face another kind of “fragility”, that is the one of the sound, the one of the instruments, and mainly the fragility of the score itself, something that can be extremely imprecise and open to the moment as well.

Pelleas et Melisande: the ever flowing metaphor.

My first impression of the opera has to do with the fragmentary condition both from text and music. Maeterlinck is building by means of fragments a concealed story. We don’t know anything about the characters and their past. Melisande is a ghost lost in a wood of uncertainties. All the characters seems to be just born. Maeterlinck is building the negative of a drama. The elusive condition of this story is in the emptiness rather than in the shown circumstances; emotions and motivations are frozen.

The musical motives are always flowing, melting ones with others in a continuous change. The continuous change remains then like a uniform feature which is a condition of the persistence of the unity.

“Upon those who step into the same rivers different and ever different waters flow down”.


The time of music works like a metaphor of the human condition: ever flowing but in depth, always the same.

The perception of time in this opera is “dissolved” in an sort of elastic time that makes the flowing of circumstances eternal. Statism is a synonymous of eternity.

Building with points…

Debussy took some essential points from the symbolist drama by Maeterlinck, working with some frozen and eternal symbols: the water, the fall, the gold in the deep of the wells; he works as well with archetypes: the young, the old and the youngest. Debussy is looking Maeterlinck through a mirror, a flexible mirror as if it is made of water. This mirror reflects the essence of Maeterlinck’s symbolism in an ever flowing musicality.

Debussy is also with the music building silence and mystery. Building the omissions is different than creating a whole and erasing parts.