I saw Opera Australia’s dazzling production of The Pearlfishers last weekend and I’ve been swimming in Bizet’s music ever since. The score was an exotic delight from the first note of the overture to the last echo at lights out – sumptuous, textured and highly coloured. The orchestra balanced well with the powerful principle voices which were true and resonant and by the end the conductor was sopping wet! Everyone gave their all.
Set on a Sri Lankan coast, the production design was built on a blue-orange colour theme and the decaying temples on the beach evoked a sense of superstition and vulnerability.
The duet sung by the friends Nadir and Zurga, In the Depths of the Temple, is the most sublimely beautiful duet in all the opera I’ve heard – it always moves me to tears.
Bizet was another child prodigy who at 36 died far too young. He wrote Pearlfishers at 24. (His later opera Carmen is one of the most popular in the repertoire.) What might he have composed had his art matured even further? We’ll never know, but see this production!