With the production at Paris in the spring of 1902 of Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, based on the play of Maeterlinck, the history of music turned a new and surprising page. "It is necessary," declared an acute French critic, M. Jean Marnold, writing shortly after the event, "to go back perhaps to Tristan to find in the opera house an event so important in certain respects for the evolution of musical art." The assertion strikes one to-day, five years after, as, if anything, overcautious. Pelléas et Melisande exhibited not simply a new manner of writing opera, but a new kind of music - a new way of evolving and combining tones, a new order of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic structure. The style of it was absolutely new and absolutely distinctive: the thing had never been done before, save, in a lesser degree, by Debussy himself in his then little known earlier work.