FIRST MARRIAGE -- DEBUSSY A PLAYWRIGHT
DEBUSSY'S Pelléas et Mélisande was accepted by the Opéra Comique, but accepted en principe -- that is, without specifying either a date or even a season for the production. And if Pelléas was not given its first performance until several years later, it was not entirely the theater director's fault. Debussy's score was far from completed when André Messager, a composer and conductor responsible for introducing many contemporary works, finally decided to show Pelléas to Albert Carré, the newly appointed director of the Opéra Comique. It was still only a vocal score with Debussy's indications for orchestration. During the following years Debussy kept taking back his Pelléas, working on it up to the last days of the rehearsals and even the first performance. "To complete a work is just like assisting at the death of someone you love," Debussy once remarked in reference to his work on Pelléas.
Besides -- and this in part would explain his constant changes in the orchestration -- Debussy was not as happy about having it performed at the Opéra Comique as might have been expected. The theater was much too large, he thought, the intimacy of his piece was going to be lost, and he hated the large crowds of spectators. He always had hoped that Comte Robert de Montesquiou, an eccentric rich dilettante, would give, perhaps, two private performances at his Pavillon des Muses, and, preferably, for a select audience. This would have suited Debussy much better.
But if there was one man who was happy about it, it was Pierre.