Les Pêcheurs de Perles by Bizet @Metropolitan Opera, New York
November 14 - December 8
Penny Woolcock’s breathtaking production, a highlight of the 2015–16 season, makes its much awaited return with an all-star cast. Soprano Pretty Yende is the beautiful priestess Leïla, with tenor Javier Camarena and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as rivals for her forbidden love. Emmanuel Villaume conducts Bizet’s sensual score.
Few operas can match the sheer lyric beauty of Bizet’s youthful Les Pêcheurs de Perles. Critics at the time were not in favor of it—the composer was accused, bafflingly, of imitating both Verdi and Wagner—but the audience was swept up in the ravishing score tinged with the allure of a mythical South Asian setting. The opera employs the same blend of exoticism and eroticism that would find such indelible expression in Bizet’s subsequent masterpiece, Carmen, but the sensual scope of the music is perhaps even wider in the earlier work with its deliberately vague setting.