Cherished for its popular duet, The Pearl Fishers offers a compelling tale of friendship tested by love. Amid Bizet’s outpouring of memorable melodies, colourful orchestration and evocative choruses is a story that is not all sweetness and light. A painful love triangle exploring themes of desire and rejection, longing and loss, and religious strictures lies at the heart of The Pearl Fishers – themes explored in Penny Woolcock’s admired original 2010 production. From the mesmerising underwater paradise of its opening sequence to the reality of designer Dick Bird’s shanty town setting, Woolcock’s staging seeks to reveal the truth lurking beneath Bizet’s Orientalist confection.
While well-known as a film-maker of integrity and distinction, Woolcock has also made important forays into opera: in addition to The Pearl Fishers, she received plaudits for her staging of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic at ENO and the Metropolitan Opera. For this first revival of The Pearl Fishers, soprano Sophie Bevan, a former ENO Harewood Artist and a firm audience favourite, makes her role debut as Leïla. Vying for her affections as Nadir and Zurga are tenor John Tessier, who was a loveable Nemorino in Jonathan Miller’s The Elixir of Love at the London Coliseum, and current ENO Harewood Artist, baritone George von Bergen. Rising star conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud, a specialist in French 19th-century repertoire, makes his UK operatic debut with this eagerly awaited revival.
A co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, New York
The Pearl Fishers is sung and surtitled in English | Running time: 2hrs 30mins (including 1 interval)
Revival supported by the Friends of ENO
Signed performance Thu 3 Jul. Pre Performance Talk: Wed 18 June with Richard Langham Smith, Bizet specialist.
The Pearl Fishers cast and creative team
Conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud
Director Penny Woolcock
Set Designer Dick Bird
Costume Designer Kevin Pollard
Lighting Designer Jen Schriever
Video Designer Leo Warner for 59 Productions Ltd
Choreographer Andrew Dawson
Translator Martin Fitzpatrick
Leïla Sophie Bevan
Nadir John Tessier
Zurga George von Bergen
Nourabad Barnaby Rea