Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Presents Conclusion to Groundbreaking Three-Year PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE Collaboration with James Darrah October 20-21

CSO_Pelléas et Mélisande logoLouis Langrée to lead final installment,
featuring Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande

Cincinnati Opera partners for first opera
presented in Music Hall post-renovation

CINCINNATI— The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Music Director Louis Langrée are pleased to announce details of the final installment of a three-year exploration of Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1893 symbolist play, Pelléas et Mélisande, a collaboration with director, production designer and visual artist James Darrah. This artistic undertaking utilizes groundbreaking visual elements, complementing orchestral works by Schoenberg, Fauré and Debussy, performed by the CSO.

The final installment of this project will feature the CSO performing Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande in collaboration with Cincinnati Opera on October 20-21 at Music Hall. Mr. Darrah will direct costumes, lighting and staging for the haunting tale of forbidden love. Mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa O’Connell, who performed the title role of Mélisande to great acclaim in the CSO’s semi-staged performance of Fauré’s adaptation of the play, reprises her role, this time joined by baritones Philip Addis (Pelléas) and Brian Mulligan (Golaud), and mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby (Geneviève).

Other cast and crew include: projection design by Adam Larsen; scenic design by Adam Rigg, costume design by Mattie Ullrich; and lighting design by Pablo Santiago; bass-baritone Richard Wiegold will perform the role of Arkel; mezzo-soprano Chloé Briot will perform the role of Yniold; baritone Thom Dreeze will perform the role of the doctor. The May Festival Chorus, under the direction of Robert Porco, will also be performing, located offstage.

The Trilogy began in 2015 with Part I, “Smoke,” and incorporated visual dance elements projected transparently above the orchestra’s stage at Music Hall during a performance of Schoenberg’s adaptation of the work. The Trilogy continued in 2016 with Part II, “Water,” at the CSO’s temporary home at the Taft Theatre in Downtown Cincinnati. This final installment returns to Music Hall and will explore the theme of “Stone.”

“After a century dominated by romanticism, Claude Debussy opened a new chapter in the history of opera in 1902 with his symbolist masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande. Debussy found a musical form where the characters would sing ‘naturally,’ where the intensity of the expression would emerge from the words themselves and not around them. The orchestra occupies a central role in this piece. Debussy developed an amazing kaleidoscope of colors and emotions, like stained glass, where each musician participates in the general musical rendition. I regularly ask musicians to sing with their instrument. In this particular piece, on the contrary, they should rather speak with their instrument, like the singers should speak ‘higher,’ in emotion and spirit, delivering the theater into the music. Pelléas et Mélisande is a kind of musical UFO in the operatic galaxy.
It is into the literary beauty and depth that Debussy drew all the intensity and the modernity of his score. This performance closes our three-year Pelléas et Mélisande cycle with director James Darrah, and we are fortunate to collaborate with the Cincinnati Opera on this masterpiece,” said Mr. Langrée.

Friday Orange: Curated by Annie Saunders
Friday Orange is a series of three concerts in the CSO’s 2017-18 Music Hall season featuring concert enhancements such as signature cocktails, lobby entertainment and other surprises designed to add intrigue, showcase local artists and elevate the music. The Friday, October 20 performance of Pelléas et Mélisande will be part of this series, and the Friday Orange experience will be curated by Annie Saunders. Ms. Saunders is the founder of The Wilderness, which is an experiential theatre company based in LA. She was recommended by Mr. Darrah as the curator for Friday Orange. She also recently hosted a workshop at Cannes Film Festival. More information:

CSO Encore: YP Event
CSO Encore, the Orchestra’s Young Professional organization, partners with Cincinnati Opera’s YP group, Center Stage, to celebrate the final installment of the lush and visual Pelléas Trilogy with cocktails and festivities at Music Hall (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) before the concert, plus a few surprises. More information is on the event’s Facebook page.

The CSO extends its gratitude to the generous funders who made this possible:
Year One: Tom and Dee Stegman
Year Two: Ginger and David W. Warner
Year Three: The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. / U. S. Bank Foundation, Ginger and David W. Warner

The CSO is grateful to Series Sponsor U.S. Bank and to Concert Sponsor Messer Construction for their generous support of these performances. The CSO is also grateful for underwriting support from The John A. Schroth Charitable Trust and The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. / U. S. Bank Foundation, Ginger and David W. Warner.

Tickets for the October 20-21 performances start at just $15 and are available by calling the CSO Box Office at (513) 381-3300 or visiting


James Darrah, director
Los Angeles based director and designer James Darrah’s collaborative focus through varied mediums has quickly led him to be recognized as “the newest discovery… a gifted young American director” (Chicago Tribune). He has crafted an unconventional and varied body of work that “injects real drama” (The New York Times) into new theater and opera productions, installations, and events.

His uniquely collaborative and team-based approach to innovative stage projects has also led to the creation of LA-based production and design company Chromatic, which he co-founded with longtime collaborator Peabody Southwell and production manager Michelle Magaldi. Established as a collective of interdisciplinary artists who collaborate to create aesthetic, theatrical and operatic events across blurring mediums, Chromatic’s wide range of projects includes everything from new productions of proscenium opera and site-specific performance events to the three-year multimedia video installation and theatrical piece based on Pelléas and Mélisande with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Darrah’s recent projects include Chromatic’s annual residency with Opera Omaha, where he launched a production of Handel’s Semele in a co-production with Opera Philadelphia; his European directorial debut with Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, Portugal for a new production of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride; and an installment of the San Francisco Symphony’s trailblazing SOUNDBOX series. This spring he continued his ongoing collaboration with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, both as director of Bernstein’s On the Town in a new staged production for San Francisco Symphony and as director/designer for a world premiere of Tilson Thomas’ Playthings on the Wind with New World Symphony in Miami. Other upcoming projects include a debut at Bard Summerscape with Mascagni’s Iris, a production of La Tragédie de Carmen for San Diego Opera, and the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s operatic adaptation of Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves for Opera Philadelphia. Darrah also recently collaborated with LA-based dance group WIFE for the first installment of the CSO’s Pelléas project and directed the second in his series of productions of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy for Così fan tutte with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edo de Waart.

In 2018 Darrah will assume the role of artistic director for a new annual spring festival and artist residency as part of Chromatic’s ongoing collaboration with Opera Omaha, and will also direct the world premiere of the newly commissioned opera Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli in a co-commission with Washington National Opera and the Miller Theater.

Darrah holds an MFA degree from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, where he was the recipient of the James Pendleton Foundation Grant and the George Burns/Gracie Allen Directing Scholarship. He continued his studies with director Stephen Wadsworth at The Julliard School. He has received the national Princess Grace Award in Theater, was a directing nominee in the 2015 International Opera Awards, and was named Musical America’s New Artist of the Month for December 2015. He has taught theater and performance for the Adler Fellowship Program of San Francisco Opera, Cornish College of the Arts, California State University, Long Beach and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Louis Langrée, conductor
The French conductor Louis Langrée has been Music Director of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra since the 2013 and of the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center in New York since 2002. With Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, recent and future highlights have included a performance in New York as part of their anniversary season of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series, a tour to Asia and several world premieres, including three Concertos for Orchestra by Sebastian Currier, Thierry Escaich and Zhou Tian.

Guest conducting projects over the next two seasons include Louis Langrée’s debut with the Philhadelphia and Konzerthaus Berlin Orchestras and return engagements with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Wiener Symphoniker and Hallé.

With the Orchestre National de France he will conduct Debussy’s opera and Schoenberg’s tone poem based on Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande. He will also return to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Wiener Staatsoper and Opéra Comique in Paris.

Louis Langrée has conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker (in concert in both Vienna and Salzburg) and London Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with many other orchestras around the world including the London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Budapest Festival and NHK Symphony Orchestras. Festival appearances have included Wiener Festwochen, Salzburg Mozartwoche and Whitsun and the BBC Proms. He has held positions as Music Director of the Orchestre de Picardie (1993-98) and Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège (2001-06) and was Chief Conductor of the Camerata Salzburg (2011-16).

Louis Langrée was Music Director of Opéra National de Lyon (1998-2000) and Glyndebourne Touring Opera (1998-2003). He has also conducted at La Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opéra-Bastille and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Dresden Staatsoper and the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam.

Louis Langrée’s recordings have received several awards from Gramophone and Midem Classical. He was appointed Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2006 and Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2014.

Tickets start at $15 and are available by phone at (513) 381-3300, on the Internet at, and in person at:

  • CSO Box Office at Music Hall, 317 E. Fifth St., Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • CSO Box Office at Music Hall 2 hours prior to the performance.
  • CSO Student Access tickets are available by calling the Box Office the week of the concert or visiting

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