Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers for the Television Age
The Israeli Opera’s current performance of The Pearl Fishers (Les Pêcheurs de Perles) by Georges Bizet -- the first time this opera has even been presented in Israel -- is guaranteed to be an unforgettable operatic experience, if only thanks to the audacious staging of guest director Lotte de Beer.
The entire plot -- while faithful to the libretto -- is re-imagined as a TV reality show: “The Pearl Fishers -- The Challenge!”, complete with television director and crew as part of the cast (in non-singing roles).
The opening scene of the opera mimics the reality show Survivor, as Zurga is elected leader of the pearl fishers by votes of “viewers” -- actually the Israel Opera chorus -- watching television in their homes; the audience can see into “apartments” -- “inhabited” by a cross-section of Israeli society -- in the background of the stage. The voting device is reprised again at the end of opera, with the fate of doomed lovers Nadir and Leila in the balance.
The job of Nourabad, the high priest of Brahma, is transformed into that of a television presenter -- which works OK for announcing Zurga’s victory, but a bit less so when the lyrics he sings center on religious duties.
The incorporation of video in this production is put to its best use when displaying beautiful scenes of Ceylonese sunsets. Otherwise, the key to enjoying this opera is to listen to Bizet’s legendary music, including the well-known duet of Zurga and Nadir, and the tender, moving duet of Nadir and Leila.
The soloists performing all four leading roles alternate each night, with conductors Steven Sloane and Ethan Schmeisser also switching off duties wielding the baton. The Pearl Fishers runs at the Tel Aviv Opera House through July 16, 2016.
The Opera House
19 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard
Tel Aviv 61332
Tickets can be purchased in person or by telephone, using credit cards (Isracard, Visa, Diners and American Express).
The box office is open: Sunday-Thursday 9:30 am – 8:30 pm
Fridays and holiday eves: 9:30 am – 1:00 pm
Telephone reservations from 8:30 am