January 8, 12, 16, 20, 23, 2016
Don’t miss the production the New York Times hails as “the sleeper hit of the Metropolitan Opera season… a dream cast… Sensitive and insightful production… Theatrical magic… Diana Damrau brings brilliant coloratura agility, radiant sound and charisma galore to the role of Leila. Mariusz Kwiecien is an ideal Zurga… Matthew Polenzani sang his haunting aria of remembrance with wonderful lyrical tenderness – if you think it is impossible for a tenor to cap phrases…with melting, pianissimo high notes, report to the Met to hear how this is done superlatively… If only [Bizet] could have seen this production.”
Bizet’s gorgeous opera of lust and longing set in the Far East returns to the Met stage for the first time in 100 years. Soprano Diana Damrau stars as Leïla, the beautiful Hindu priestess pursued by rival pearl divers competing for her hand. Her suitors are tenor Matthew Polenzani and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, who sing the lilting duet “Au fond du temple saint,” which opera fans know and adore. Director Penny Woolcock explores the timeless themes of pure love, betrayal, and vengeance in a production that vividly creates an undersea world on the stage of the Met. Conductor Gianandrea Noseda brings his romantic flair to the lush score from the composer of Carmen.
Production a gift of the Gramma Fisher Foundation, Marshalltown, Iowa
Additional funding from The Annenberg Foundation; Mr. William R. Miller, in memory of Irene D. Miller; and American Express
World premiere: Théâtre Lyrique, Paris, 1863. Few operas can match the sheer lyric beauty of Bizet’s youthful The Pearl Fishers. Critics at the time were not in favor of it but the audience was swept up in the ravishing score tinged with the allure of a mythical South Asian setting. The drama itself remains within the conventional standards of the day, with a love triangle complicated by the true friendship of the two men involved in it. Although not performed frequently, the opera successfully stands on its own when appreciated for its unique atmosphere, rather than compared to the composer’s later masterpiece, Carmen, or held up to modern notions of dramatic plausibility.