You cannot miss the live performance of the Metropolitan Opera's Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) at Cinema Nouveau. The absolutely sensational staging, with breathtaking visual splendour and commanding performances, brings Georges Bizet's gorgeous opera of lust and longing, set in the Far East, to life at its most riveting.
If ever there was a chance to become an ardent opera buff, this is it!
The Met Live in HD gives opera lovers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of watching grand opera at its best in the comfort of a cinema. Matthew Diamond, who directed the HD transmission, has done a sterling job of perfectly capturing the essence of all the drama and visual splendour.
Woolcock’s staging of Les Pêcheurs de Perles is a co-production with the English National Opera, where it premiered in 2010 and features set design by Dick Bird in his Met debut, costume design by Kevin Pollard, lighting design by Jen Schriever, projection design by 59 Productions, and movement direction by Andrew Dawson.
The breathtaking projections will blow your mind. It’s not often that you watch pearl divers plunge to the bottom of the sea at the opening of an opera. Yes, they do, and the secret behind this spectacular visual imagery is revealed during the intermission, when spirited host Patricia Racette conducts live interviews with cast and crew members as well as the production teams.
The matinee performance on 16 January was filmed at the Met Opera and will enjoy four more exclusive screenings at Cinema Nouveau on 9 and 17 February at 11.30am and on 16 and 18 February at 5pm.
Last performed at The Met in 1916, The Pearl Fishers is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, who brings his romantic flair to the lush score, and directed by Penny Woolcock, who magnificently explores the timeless themes of pure love, betrayal, and vengeance in a production that vividly creates an undersea world on the stage of the Met.
This new production of Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers), a rarity by the composer of the popular opera Carmen that has not been seen at the Met in nearly a century, tells the story of a beautiful Hindu priestess pursued by rival pearl divers competing for her hand.
Highlights of the score include Au fond du temple saint, perhaps the best-known duet for two male voices – Nadir and Zurga – performed with unforgettable passion and sensual vigour by American lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani as Nadir, Polish operatic baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as Zurga, with Polenzani delivering his haunting aria of remembrance with wonderful lyrical tenderness, and German soprano Diana Damrau bringing brilliant coloratura agility, radiant sound and charisma galore to the role of Leila.
During the mid-1800s, it was difficult for new composers and new works to be seen at the two major opera houses in Paris, the Paris Opera and the Opéra-Comique.
Although Georges Bizet was not well known at the time, he won the prestigious Prix de Rome at age 25 and was commissioned to write Les Pêcheurs de Perles. The opera was staged at the Théâtre Lyrique, which was eventually known for the premieres of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and Faust, Wagner’s Rienzi, and Berlioz’s Les Troyens à Carthage.
Les Pêcheurs de Perles had its first Met performance 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.
Opera lovers can look forward to Puccini's Turandot from 20 February. Franco Zeffirelli’s golden production is conducted by Paolo Carignani, with Nina Stemmeas the proud princess of ancient China, whose riddles doom every suitor who seeks her hand. Tenor Marco Berti is Calàf, the brave prince who sings Nessun Dorma and wins her love.
For booking information on The Met: Live in HD season, go to www.cinemanouveau.co.za or www.sterkinekor.com. Download the Ster-Kinekor App on any Nokia, Samsung Android, iPhone or Blackberry smartphone for updates, news and to make bookings. Follow on Twitter @nouveaubuzz and on Facebook at Cinema Nouveau. For information, call Ticketline on 0861-Movies (668 437).
Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa and internationally the past 22 years. Visit www.writingstudio.co.za