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À mon chevet: Debussy's Mélisande

book cover
À mon chevet is a series of posts featuring a quote from whatever book is on my nightstand at the moment.
After dinner Mary [Garden] and Lilly [Debussy] would sit and chat while Debussy sat at the piano and improvised. Mary treasured these hours: "I have never heard such music in my life, such music as came from the piano at those moments. My God, how beautiful it was, and haunting, and nobody but Lily [sic] and I ever heard it! Debussy never put those improvisations down to paper; they went back to the strange place they had come from, never to return. That precious music, lost forever, was unlike anything Debussy ever published. There was a quality of its own about it, remote, other-worldly, always saying something on the verge of words."

-- Gillian Opstad, Debussy's Mélisande, p. 89
This is from a fascinating book, recently received from Boydell Press, about the women who created the role of Mélisande. The quote is from Mary Garden's Story, a memoir that the Scottish-American soprano wrote about her life, with Louis J. Biancolli. Some more quotes and eventually a review are forthcoming.

1 comment:

John Bowen said...

For those interested in Debussy and particularly Pelleas and Melisande, Opera Vivente is producing Impressions of Pelleas (a distillation of Debussy's opera by Marius Constant) as the middle item in its 2009-2010 season. Performances are February 26, 28, March 4, and 6, 2010. For more info visit