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    Pearl Fishers, The

    The Pearl Fishers

    Overview

    "The Pearl Fishers shimmers...a dream cast...
    Cabell sings like an angel!"

    — John Stege, Santa Fe Reporter

    "Bizet's rare gem shines ever so brightly...
    Don't miss this..."

    — D.S. Crafts, Albuquerque Journal

    Before there was Carmen, there was The Pearl Fishers — the score that established the 24-year-old Bizet as a genius. The Pearl Fishers shimmers with the beauty of its exotic setting, and includes one of the most cherished duets in the entire operatic literature, sung by best friends Nadir (tenor Eric Cutler) and Zurga (baritone Christopher Magiera) who vie for the love of priestess Leila (soprano Nicole Cabell). The Pearl Fishers delivers the same creative team that designed and directed the highly acclaimed 2010 production of Madame Butterfly.

    8:30 pm performances: June 30; July 6, 11

    8:00 pm performances: July 31; August 10, 13, 22, 25

    Synopsis

    Composed by Georges Bizet

    Sung in French with English and Spanish Opera Titles

    ACT I
    On the Ceylon shore that provides their livelihood and the rhythm of their lives, the pearl fishers meet and choose Zurga as their king. Nadir, once Zurga’s best friend, suddenly appears after a year away in the forest. Zurga persuades him to resettle in their village, returning to his former life and their close friendship. They recall their shared past, when they fell in love with the same woman but renounced her to remain loyal to each other. Renewing their former closeness, they vow never again to let their love for a woman threaten it (“Au fond du temple saint”).

    News arrives of a boat’s landing nearby. It bears a virgin chosen as a priestess to help protect the fishermen from storms and the forces of evil. Veiled and escorted by the high priest Nourabad, she arrives for instruction in her prayerful duties and is warned of the penalty for disobedience: death. She recognizes Nadir, who in turn is struck by her resemblance to Leïla, the woman he and Zurga forswore. As she ascends a promontory to begin her sea vigil, a gust momentarily reveals her face. Now the impassioned Nadir sees she can only be Leïla, and he is powerless to keep his vow to his friend. As she prays to the goddess Shiva, she hears Nadir confess that he has followed her to the island and still dreams of her (“Je crois entendre encore”), and her hymn becomes a passionate song of love.

    ACT II
    At their ancient temple, Nourabad reminds Leïla to remain faithful to her priestly duties. Leïla responds by telling how she protected a fugitive, refusing at knifepoint to reveal him to his pursuers; she continues to wear the pearl necklace he gave her as a reward. But after Nourabad leaves, she thinks of Nadir and cannot sleep. When he enters she desperately warns him away, saying they will be killed if found together, but soon they can only surrender to their passion. Nadir leaves, promising to return for her.

    Angry villagers discover the fleeing Nadir and demand his death along with that of the veiled, unrecognized Leïla. But Zurga reminds them that only their king can determine the lovers’ fate. He orders that their lives be spared, surreptitiously urging them to escape the now-hostile village. His mercy turns to rage as Nourabad removes Leïla’s veil, revealing Nadir’s betrayal. He sentences the lovers to death as they appeal to the god Brahma for protection.

    ACT III
    Reflecting on his friendship with Nadir and his own love for Leïla, Zurga regrets his death-sentence and struggles toward a nobler path. Leïla approaches him and attempts to protect Nadir, claiming she followed him to the island. Her devotion arouses Zurga’s jealousy, but when Nourabad arrives to remove Leïla, Zurga notices her cherished pearl necklace; as she attempts to entrust it to a villager for her mother’s sake, Zurga seizes it.

    With emotional chants and dances, the villagers prepare Nadir and Leïla’s funeral pyre for their execution at sunrise. Nadir despondently prays that he might somehow save Leïla. She enters, and together they prepare for death. Then, as a glow becomes visible in the distant sky, Zurga warns his subjects that their village is on fire. Blood-lust turns to confusion as villagers run to save their homes.

    Alone with Nadir and Leïla, Zurga explains that he set the fire to save them; he had recognized the necklace as the one he gave Leïla after she saved his life, and now he sees she belongs with Nadir. They escape with his blessing, singing of their happiness.

    Artists

    • Leila - Nicole Cabell
    • Nadir - Eric Cutler
    • Zurga - Christopher Magiera
    • Nourabad - Wayne Tigges
    • Conductor - Emmanuel Villaume
    • Director - Lee Blakeley
    • Scenic Designer - Jean-Marc Puissant
    • Costume Designer - Brigitte Reiffenstuel
    • Lighting Designer - Rick Fisher

    Profiles

    Nicole Cabell (Leila)

    Biography 

    Eric Cutler (Nadir)

    Biography 

    Christopher Magiera (Zurga)

    Biography 

    Wayne Tigges (Nourabad)

    Biography 

    Emmanuel Villaume (Conductor)

    Biography 

    Lee Blakeley (Director)

    Biography 

    Jean-Marc Puissant (Scenic Designer)

    Biography 

    Brigitte Reiffenstuel (Costume Designer)

    Biography 

    Rick Fisher (Lighting Designer)

    Biography 

    Video and Audio

    Au fond du temple saint (2:33 duration)

    After seeing Leila, both Zurga and Nadir are totally mesmerized by her beauty. They swear to one another to never allow their love for her to turn them into enemies.

    Gino Quilico (Zurga), John Aler (Nadir), Michel Plasson conducts the Choeurs et Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse. To order this EMI Classics recording click here.

    Je crois entendre encore (1:34 duration)

    Nadir secretly follows Leila and is haunted by her tender voice under the light of the stars. He sings, "Oh bewitching night, exquisite rapture, delightful memory..."

    John Aler (Nadir), Michel Plasson conducts the Choeurs et Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse. To order this EMI Classics recording click here.

    Me voila seule dans la nuit… comme autrefois (1:01 duration)

    Even in his absence, Leila feels her love is near, "I can sleep and dream in peace... my soul is soothed."

    Barbar Hendricks (Leila), Michel Plasson conducts the Choeurs et Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse. To order this EMI Classics recording click here.

    Eric Cutler as Nadir and Christopher Magiera as Zurga
    Nadir and Zurga had once fallen in love with the same womanwhich led to a bitter rivalry. They swear that nothing will come between them again and vow to be brothers for life. ("Au fond du temple saint")
    Nicole Cabell as Leila
    Left alone in the temple, Leila sings of the love which fills her heart. (Comme autrefois dans la nuit sombre")
    Eric Cutler as Nadir and Nicole Cabell as Leila
    When Nadir enters the temple, Leila desperately warns him away saying they will be killed if found together, but soon they can only surrender to their passion. ("Ton coerur n'a compris le mien")
    Chorus end of Act II
    Leila and Nadir pray to Brahma for help while the crowd calls on him to avenge the sacrilege. 
    General Director Charles MacKay discusses The Pearl Fishers
    Part 1 of 1 (1:57 duration)
    Soprano Nicole Cabell discusses The Pearl Fishers
    Partial interview segment. For complete interview on YouTube, click here.