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Musical Symbolism in the Operas of Debussy and Bartok$
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Elliot Antokoletz

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195365825

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365825.001.0001

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Pelléas et Mélisande

Pelléas et Mélisande

Mélisande as Christ Symbol‐Life, Death, and Resurrection‐and Motivic Reinterpretations of the Whole‐Tone Dyad

Chapter:
(p.147) 7 Pelléas et Mélisande
Source:
Musical Symbolism in the Operas of Debussy and Bartok
Author(s):

Elliott Antokoletz (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365825.003.0007

This chapter first looks at Act IV, Scene 1, a room in the castle. This scene anticipates Pelléas's fate as foreseen by his father. It then next looks at Act IV, Scene 2, which presents Mélisande as symbol of resurrection as foreseen by Arkel, while Golaud's vengeance and Mélisande's hair are presented as a symbol of the Crucifixion. Next the chapter turns to Act IV, Scene 3 — a well in the park — which provides a symbol of the sacrificial lamb. Scene 4 is based on the love duet and the death of Pelléas. Finally, the chapter looks at Act IV, Scene 4, which addresses structure and proportion in the service of musico-dramatic development and emotional climax. This scene presents the “Shadows” motif and “Ecstasy” motif. The fusion of light and dark is represented by octatonic fusion of pentatonic and whole-tone sets. The scene culminates with Golaud's vengeance and the fulfillment of fate.

Keywords:   Crucifixion, sacrificial lamb, love duet, Shadows motif, Ecstasy motif, Golaud's vengeance

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