Los Angeles Opera Preview: THE PEARL FISHERS (LA Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

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by Frank Arthur on October 7, 2017

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles


Bizet’s most successful opera besides Carmen, The Pearl Fishers premiered as Les Pêcheurs de Perles at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris (1863). London saw it at Covent Garden under the title of Leila (1887); and Italy, Pescatori di Perle (1899). The New York premiere was at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1896, when only the first two of the opera’s three acts were performed as part of a matinee showcasing the talents of the French soprano Emma Calvé (the opera was performed in its entirety on opening night of the 1916-17 Met season, with Frieda Hempel as Leïla and Enrico Caruso as Nadir). Following Bizet’s death, different versions were created to make it more up-to-the-minute, but these were muddled. Penny Woolcock’s production (the second for LA Opera) returns mainly to the 1863 original version of Pêcheurs. Plácido Domingo conducts tonight through October 22, then Grant Gershon picks up the baton through October 28, 2017. This is a co-production of the Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera. Expect eye-popping design, complete with stunning special effects, from Dick Bird (sets), Kevin Pollard (costumes), and Jen Schriever (lights). Below are some photos to whet your appetite.

The story is set in ancient, barbaric, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in an encampment for pearl divers, who regularly imperiled their lives working, relying on the village priestess to pray for them. In the first act, Nadir (Javier Camarena) returns to his village just as the villagers are about to select Zurga (Alfredo Daza) as leader. Nadir and Zurga—friends since childhood—embrace, pledging loyalty, refusing to let their love for Leïla (Nino Machaidze), an exotic Brahmin priestess, to come between them. Leïla is brought to the village and commits to following the rules of chastity and praying for the pearl fishers all day. As the story progresses, it deals with timeless dilemmas such as, loyalty between friends and the betrayal of sacred vows.

photos by Ken Howard

The Pearl Fishers (Les Pêcheurs de Perles)
LA Opera
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 North Grand Ave
•    Saturday, October 7, 2017, at 7:30pm
•    Sunday, October 15, 2017, at 2pm
•    Thursday, October 19, 2017, at 7:30pm
•    Sunday, October 22, 2017, at 2pm
•    Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at 7:30pm
•    Saturday, October 28, 2017, at 7:30pm
for tickets, call 213.972.8001 or visit LA Opera

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