Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announces groundbreaking three-year Pelleas Trilogy collaboration with James Darrah



The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Music Director Louis Langrée announce 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 will utilize groundbreaking visual elements, complementing orchestral works by Schoenberg, Fauré and Debussy, which will be performed by the CSO throughout the upcoming three consecutive seasons. Each work performed will have an accompanying elemental theme: smoke, water and stone.

“The musicians of the CSO have in their musical culture the depth and delicacy required to portray this story,” said Mr. Langrée. “The symbolist artistic movement in which Pelléas et Mélisande was born allows for the screams and whispers of the drama to unfold in new ways. The vision for this Trilogy is to heighten our collective awareness of what lies just below the surface, musically and across other art forms. It is an opportunity for us to go deep into our secret garden through music and cultivate our sensibilities and sensitivities so they may blossom even outside of the concert hall.”

The Trilogy begins with concerts (Part I: Smoke) at Cincinnati Music Hall on Oct. 2-3 (8 p.m.). Schoenberg’s 1903 orchestral tone poem Pelleas und Melisande, performed by the CSO under the baton of Mr. Langrée, will be accompanied by video (directed by Mr. Darrah) projected on sheer curtains hanging throughout the Orchestra on stage. Adam Larsen is leading projection design and photography, along with the Los Angeles-based Chromatic team. Also on the concert program is Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with soloist Karen Gomyo.

“A three-year artistic collaboration of this level is highly unusual in the orchestra world, but such relationships are becoming more and more important in bringing new life to the art form,” said CSO President Trey Devey. “We are embarking on an experiment with James that will demonstrate the extraordinary artistry and daring versatility of the CSO, while continuing to serve as a model for the industry on an international level.”

Called “the newest discovery… a gifted young American director” by the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Darrah’s work is known for its uniquely collaborative and team-based approach to unconventional projects that spans across several artistic mediums. His work with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic has earned international acclaim.

The CSO’s 2016-17 season (to be performed at Cincinnati’s downtown Taft Theatre while the Orchestra’s Music Hall home undergoes renovation) will feature Fauré’s 1898 Pelléas et Mélisande (Part II: Water), performed as incidental music with theater and spoken word texts by Maeterlinck. The 2017-18 season (performed at newly-renovated Music Hall) will feature Part III: Stone—Debussy’s 1902 opera by the same name in collaboration with Cincinnati Opera. Dates and times for these performances will be announced at a later date.

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 Boundless Series Sponsor Macy’s and Concert Sponsor PricewaterhouseCoopers for their generous support of the Oct. 2-3 performance. The Multimedia Sponsor for these performance is Tom and Dee Stegman.

Tickets for the Oct. 2-3 performances start at just $12 and are available by calling the CSO Box Office at (513) 381-3300 or visiting