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Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande

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Herbert von Karajan's 1978 recording of Pelléas et Mélisande for EMI is one of the work's most conventionally operatic versions in that its passions are large and its theatricality is propulsive. That might seem to preclude its effectiveness and authenticity, since the mystery and understatement of Pelléas make it one of the least conventionally operatic operas. Karajan's reading, while certainly not a traditional approach, is startlingly persuasive, a reminder that Debussy's score has a profundity that leaves open the possibility of a variety of valid and convincing interpretations. While his conducting never feels rushed (in fact, the subtlety of his rhythmic flexibility is one of the outstanding attributes of the performance), Karajan's characters behave with a very human impetuosity that reveals the opera's surging emotional arc in a way that some more soft-hued performances miss. In his conception, even Mélisande, who can easily be portrayed with a watery passivity, comes across as charged... Hide synopsis

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