"TO TELL THE TRUTH, Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien tired me far more than I thought possible, and the trip to Turin finished me completely," Debussy said upon his return from Italy. He had a long program of French music to conduct, including Emmanuel Chabrier's Gwendoline overture, Roger Ducasse Sarabande, the Prelude to the Third Act of Ariane et Barbe-Bleue by Paul Dukas, and his own Children's Corner (orchestrated by Caplet), L'Aprèsmidi d'un Faune, and Ibéria. He collapsed during the performance (June 25), and an assistant conductor had to be called in to complete the concert. Debussy blamed it on the heat, his health and fatigue. "This is how you pay for everything in this world! The old saying goes: 'Do not force your talent' and a more modern version of it is: 'Let us not be carried away.'" His doctor ordered him to rest for at least a month, but not until the end of July were the Debussys able to leave Paris and go to Houlgate, in Normandy, for the summer.
To have "something to work on," Debussy took the manuscript of the Rapsodie pour clarinette with him. He was going to orchestrate it, for he was sure that the pleasures of Houlgate would not be sufficient to distract him from his work on Poe's two stories. But to his surprise he found the little place pleasanter than he anticipated -- the country air, the sea, and even the few people he met. He complained, however, about the "hotel life" -- it was not for a man of his age, he said. There was a woman who sang one Massenet opera a day; Debussy declared it must have been prescribed for her