PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE
"How WILL THE WORLD get along with these two poor creatures?" Debussy had written to Lerolle in 1894. ". . . They are so difficult to introduce into the world . . ." he had complained to Ysaée in 1896. For ten years these were Debussy's thoughts about Pelléas et Mélisande and there is no doubt, now that the opportunity had finally arrived, that his sole concern was with the best possible way of presenting his work. He certainly had not the slightest premonition of the "drama" his opera would cause even before the curtain rose for the dress rehearsal, a "drama" which involved two beautiful, ambitious and jealous prima donnas, their lovers, and Debussy, implicated only because of this concern with the forthcoming production.
The two prima donnas, Georgette Leblanc and Mary Garden, have both written their memoirs and have stated the case, each according, I presume, "to her best knowledge and belief," as contradictorily as one would expect. Of these two accounts of the story, Georgette Leblanc's, written some twenty years after the events took place, is shorter and calmer, as befits the loser in a contest, while Mary Garden's, as told from a memory of fifty years, is so emotional -- perhaps understandably -- and so vague about dates, that it can serve only as an illustration of the characters entangled in an intrigue that gave Debussy an unnecessary headache.
Both women were singers well known to the audiences of the Opéra Comique, and both were closely connected with Albert Carré, the director, and André Messager, the conductor, who had the de-