La délivrance inutile was the original subtitle of Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, the play that Maurice Maeterlinck wrote with the opera stage in mind. His adaptation of the fairytale, better-known in the version popularised by Charles Perrault, focuses on the strong-willed young woman, Ariane (a reference to Ariadne of Greek mythology) who wants to free the women imprisoned by the infamous lady-killer in his castle.
But strangely enough, when confronted with light and freedom, they prefer to stay with their tormentor. For a long time, this opera by Paul Dukas – the only one he ever wrote – was outshone by that other opera based on a text by Maeterlinck, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Nevertheless, the work also had its ardent admirers, led by Olivier Messiaen. The impressive voice part of Ariane, the real leading role, and its rich orchestration make Ariane et Barbe-Bleue an absolute pièce de résistance of 20th-century opera.
Future opera productions