Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande, adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck’s symbolist play, had its first performance at the Paris Opéra-Comique (30 April 1902) under the direction of composer André Messager with the celebrated American soprano Mary Garden and French baritone Jean Périer in the title roles. This vocal score shows the role of Pelléas, originally composed for a baryton martina – a high lyric baritone bright of timbre and light of weight – re-written for tenor, in red ink. A handwritten note laid in the front of the score indicates the pages on which changes to the musical line were required.
The score was owned by tenor Antonin Trantoul (1887-1966); the annotations in red and blue pencil throughout the score may be his. Correspondence between Trantoul and the publisher Durand indicates that the annotations were taken from a manuscript prepared by Debussy himself and that this version was sung by tenors Thomas Salignac, Fernand Francell, David Deviès, and Alfred Legrand in Brussels, Paris, Nice, Milan, Cairo, Lyon and Strasbourg. Shown here is the beginning of the fourth scene of the fourth act, which culminates in Golaud’s murder of Pelléas.