An exhibit about Schönberg’s symphonic tone poem Pelleas und Melisande, curated by the Arnold Schönberg Center is on display at the Oldenburg State Theater until July 4, 2019.

Arnold Schönberg composed the symphonic tone poem Pelleas und Melisande op. 5 – his first completed orchestra work – between 1902 and 1903 in Berlin.

“I had initially planned to convert Pelleas and Melisande into an opera, but I gave up this plan, even though I did not know that Debussy was working on this opera at the same time. I still regret that I did not carry out my initial intention. It might have missed the wonderful aura of the poem; but I might have made my characters more singing. On the other hand the symphonic poem helped me, in that it taught me to express my characters in precisely formulated units, a technique which an opera would perhaps not have promoted so well. Thus my fate evidently guided me with great foresight.” (Arnold Schönberg)

Schönberg, in American exile, was inspired by Antony Tudor’s ballet version of his Transfigured Night, which premiered in 1942 in New York under the title Pillar of Fire. He decided to modify and arrange the Pelleas score as a ballet. He intended to do this by expanding (and simultaneously reducing) the one-movement symphonic poem into a multi-movement suite (not realized).

In 2019 Italian choreographer Luca Veggetti developled a new interpretation of the material with the BalletCompagnie Oldenburg based on the symbolist drama. The Arnold Schönberg Center’s exhibit which was created for this production, will be shown at the Oldenburg State Theater until the end of the season.