Presented by State Opera of SA
Reviewed 12 May 2018
The Pearl Fishers is a remarkable opera. Written by Georges Bizet when he was 24 years old, it has freshness and a feel of other worldliness. This may be due to the fact that Bizet, like other composers of the day was charmed by the exotic but had no real knowledge of the places or the people. This means we could pick fault with the names and places but that doesn’t really matter, it’s the story that counts, and when boiled down it is another tragic love story.
Conductor Gordon Abbott brings the romance and the emotion out in the music; the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is wonderful and the chorus immerse the audience in beautiful harmonies. Michael Gow, the director, has used the stage well, allowing the crowd scenes to be realistic whilst remaining contained. Robert Kemp’s set and costumes speak of the exotic and temples but remain ethereal. The lighting by Matt Scott enhances everything, starry nights and raging fires.
Grant Doyle as Zurga, an administrator who will be ‘king’ for the pearl fishing season, matches well with Pelham Andrews’ Nourbad a profiteer: Doyle’s resonant baritone with Andrews’ bass voice. Nadir the man who breaks his oath and loves the priestess is sung by tenor Andrew Goodwin. When Nourbad brings the beautiful Leila to sing the prayers for the fishermen, to calm the seas, Nadir realises that she is the one he fell in love with and cannot keep away. The tragedy of the lovers is that once discovered they are sentenced to death.
Desiree Frahn sings Leila with her amazing soprano; she goes from strength to strength! Her quiet dignity is filled with emotion. The lasting impression from the production is how hauntingly beautiful her performance is. There are only a few performances so be quick; it would be a shame to miss it.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Adelaide Festival Theatre
Season: 12, 15, 17, 19 May 2018
Duration: 2.5 hr
Tickets: $50 – $190