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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Garsington Opera’s new staging of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande features two charismatic young singers, both making their festival debuts this summer. Baritone Jonathan McGovern and soprano Andrea Carroll tell Andrew Green about the challenges of preparing for their complex, elusive title roles.

There’s something otherworldly about Debussy’s ravishing masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande that feels right for Wormsley Park, the Getty family estate which Garsington Opera calls home every summer. Just 40 miles from busy central London, the dreamy pastoral surroundings could be a million miles away. With its luminously glazed theatre-pavilion perched between forest and lake, the setting seems made for an opera in which space, light and water are practically characters in the story.

Garsington’s production of Pelléas is full of ‘firsts’. Debussy’s opera, conducted by Jac van Steen, sees the Philharmonia Orchestra’s debut in its new association with the festival. Also first-timers at Garsington are the young American soprano Andrea Carroll (Mélisande) and British baritone Jonathan McGovern (Pelléas), both enjoying increasing attention internationally.

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About Opera Now

Christophe Rousset celebrates a quarter century at the forefront of the Early Music scene with Les Talens Lyriques; Sir John Eliot Gardiner takes Monteverdi’s three surviving operas on tour around the world; and our guide to the brightest and best opera festivals of 2017. Plus, remembering the velvet voice of Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda; individuality and imagination in the songs of Arthur Sullivan; Debussy’s ravishing Pelléas lets down its hair at Garsington; American baritone Scott Hendricks shares his love of playing bad boys; the art of the librettist; British conductor Nicholas Chalmers; and an 80th birthday tribute to Grace Bumbry.