Symbolist drama
Today, Claude Achille Debussy (1862-1918) is seen as the most profound creator of modernity. An innovator of piano music and melody (French concert songs), his conception of musical tempo, rhythm and harmony have transformed the way we listen: formally, his music is based on the juxtaposition of episodes that don´t develop, but occasionally return to us dressed up in a different meaning, the listener´s memory having to work to understand the new sense, lacking a literal return. Debussy is the creator of a sort of instantaneism in keeping with late Impressionism: His music , in the same way, exhibits colourful tones.
Born in Ghent, but living in Paris from 1886, Mauirce Maeterlinck (1862-1949), along with Paul Claudel is, in his first period, the only playwright linked to symbolism. Symbolism, a sort of metaphysical aesthetic, oriental, and reminiscent of gothic medievalism, had as its precedents Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Villies de l'Isle Adam, and, above all, Mallarmé,. Acting as a catalyst to an anti –naturalist reaction, it is a transcript of the crisis of bourgeois utilitarianism. Advocating the language of symbolic relationships based on allusion and ambiguity, symbolism put into practice Wagnerian fervor, aspiring to achieve absolute poetry with no other horizon than the word itself: It could be argued that it is the mother of all vanguards . The objective of Symbolist drama lies not in describing the efforts of the hero trying to steal fate, but to show his inability to crack the mystery of his fate. In the world of Maeterlinck, what counts is not the visible world, but the riddle of the invisible and inexpressible. Aptly, Albert-Marie Schmidt described Maeterlinck's theatre as an inexplicable maze of foreboding: Similarly, Debussy's opera is threaded by a dark sense of threat whose disturbing power stands in its opacity to demonstrate, in its total impenetrability.
After having seen a play on May 17, 1893, a couple of months later the composer received permission to write an opera based on it ... today it is considered one of the keys to modern opera.
Pelléas et Mélisande is anti-opera in the conventional sense: without an acute note, or an aria, or an exalted vocalization. The lyrics are seen as a vehicle for the virtuosity of the singer or for the heartwarming fruition of beautiful and catchy melodies stepping outside of their original purposes. It is not a work for "opera lovers" , but for music lovers in the absolute sense. Pelléas et Mélisande shows an awareness of the impossibility of writing an opera that takes into account the evolution of musical language while, being popular at the same time.
But nothing can be further from the truth than to assume that Debussy's work lacks melody: on the contrary, in very few operas do we see such invention and renewal of melodic material with such powerful and sustained lyrical effusion. But the singing is confined within the margins of the spoken word: it is a pure extension of phonetic relief, an aura surrounding the word, true musical prose (with the sole exception Mélisande's song in the tower), which, shines admirably onto even the slightest nuance of the text, revealing an expressive universe which seems unexplored and unknown and characterizes the personalities with traits as cold as they are efficient
In Debussy, the vocal writing works as a set of references that operate exclusively in the orchestra, the repository of a wealth of elements that are linked to the characters or create environments that appear and vanish with each scene, a kind of decorated sound consumed by its own presentation. What´s more, Pelléas et Mélisande, is an opera that takes place in a highly diversified set of nuances that never lose their focus or way: clearly shown in Pelléas’ declaration of love for Mélisande, which is nothing but a phrase whispered into silence .
Debussy's orchestra turns away from mass writing to focus on a single brushstroke, every scene of the opera has a its own distinct and colourful instrumental.
This mobility is expressed in the lack of development of Debussy´s themes: the opera is constructed from a succession of instances where there is no real relationship between cause or time and, musically, they are not consequences of each other. Each scene is a self sufficient microcosm: the unity of the work comes from its constant lyrical breath and the persistence of internal tension.

V.V.A.A. Debussy. Pelleas et Melisande. Print Ruan, SA. ISBN: 84-9815-641-6

The most modern musicians, like Debussy, create spiritual impressions, often taken from nature and transformed into spiritual images by purely musical means. Precisely for this reason many compare Debussy to the Impressionists, arguing that, like them, with very personal touches he used natural phenomena as the object of his creations. The truth of this shows how the arts learn from one another often resembling each other in their goals. Yet it would be wrong to assume that this definition truly reflects the importance of Debussy. Despite his connection with the Impressionists, his tendency to include internal content in his work is so strong that we can quickly perceive the dissonant soul in our presence, with all its suffering and nervous disorders. Meanwhile, in his "Impressionist" works, Debussy never used an entirely material note as a feature of music repertoire, but limits himself to the internal use of the external.
Russian music (Mussorgsky) heavily influenced Debussy. It´s no wonder then that there is a relationship between him and the young Russian composers at the forefront of Skiriabin. The compositions of both have a similar internal tone. The same defect often irritates the listener: Both suddenly abandon the atmosphere of the "new" or "ugliness" and fall for the temptation of, more or less, conventional “beauty”. The spectator is offended, often in a very real sense, feeling like a tennis ball being hit over the net separating two enemy camps: one of exterior "beauty" and the other inner "beauty". Inner beauty is the one used with compelling need, forgoing the usual beauty. Naturally, this appears ugly when you're not used to it, because the human being in general has a tendency to what is on the exterior and is unwilling to recognize the interior need (especially in today´s society).

Kandinsky. De lo Espiritual en el Arte Ed. Paidós Estética 24. Barcelona. 1996