A ‘riveting’ test of love


On Friday, April 17 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, April 19 at 3:00 pm, in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, the Dayton Opera will present The Pearl Fishers in French with English surtitles. This performance marks the final Signature Event of the DPAA 2014-2015 New Horizons season, when all three art forms of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance–Dayton Ballet, Dayton Philharmonic, and Dayton Opera–combine their talents for an artistic celebration second to none.

     The life of French composer Georges Bizet reveals a central irony. Raised by musical parents, Bizet had outstanding musical talent of his own, which became evident from the tender age of nine. A composer of immense ability, he possessed a special attraction to and talent for the theatrical stage. In his all-too-short 37 years, he produced a tremendous amount of significant work, including the operas Carmen and The Pearl Fishers.

     The Pearl Fishers was conceived after the youthful composer returned from a joyful trip to Italy. He came back brimming with inspiration. As he said of the experience and Italian music in general, “. . . my sensual nature lets itself be gripped by that music, which is at once facile, lazy, amorous, lascivious, and passionate.” Brilliant as his works are, none achieved real success in his lifetime. Today we know and appreciate his individual genius and special touch.

     Nevertheless, those new influences found their way into The Pearl Fishers, a stirring tale set in the Ceylon of antiquity. At the heart of The Pearl Fishers is a compelling story of friendship tested by love. As one might expect with such an operatic storyline, there exists a love triangle, irony, and torrid emotion, with themes of desire and rejection and of longing and loss, all portrayed with beautiful melody and song.

     The crowning jewel of the opera is the famous duet “Au fond du temple saint,” which both highlights the bond of friendship and foreshadows the rising conflict between pearl fishers Zurga and Nadir, both of whom have fallen in love with the same woman. The story and the music, accompanied by grand choral passages and captivating dance sequences, make The Pearl Fishers an irresistibly intriguing evening at the opera.

cast of peral     With a carefully selected the cast, matching each vocalist perfectly to the roles at hand in order to bring all the drama of Bizet’s creation to light, soprano Chloé Moore makes her Dayton Opera debut with this production in the role of Leila, the priestess who has been sworn to chastity but who has attracted the love interest of the two longtime friends, creating the dramatic love triangle in this sweeping opera.

     Tenor Victor Ryan Robertson also makes his Dayton Opera debut as Nadir, a former fisherman turned hunter who has returned to his former fishing village, and one of the two longtime friends in love with the stunning Leila.

     Baritone Matthew Worth returns to appear in the role of Zurga, the other pearl fisherman who has just been elected chieftain by the village, and the other of the two friends also in love with Leila.

     Rounding out this talented cast is bass-baritone Kenneth Shaw, who returns as Nourabad, the high priest of Brahma, and the elder voice of reason who reminds Leila of her vow of chastity, further complicating the thickening plot.

     First time to stage direct this masterpiece is Fenlon Lamb, where she is currently the Director of Opera and Vocal Programming at Bar Harbor Music Festival. Over the last several years, Ms. Lamb has held directing roles with numerous opera companies across the United States, including UMKS Conservatory of Music, Opera Carolina, Austin Lyric Opera, Orlando Philharmonic, Palm Beach Opera, Seattle Opera, Cleveland Opera on Tour, Toledo Opera, and Arizona Opera. In 2014, Ms. Lamb directed a “fizzing and delightful” Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Palm Beach Opera, “displaying theatrical ingenuity and artistic taste.” (Palm Beach Opera) .

     Although there are only four principal roles in The Pearl Fishers, the Mead Theatre stage will be filled with sound and song as Opera Chorus Master Jeffrey Powell directs 40 Dayton Opera Chorus vocalists in fantastic choral passages to help tell the tragic tale at hand. In addition, this score is performed by the Dayton Philharmonic as well as the Dayton Ballet joins with the full company of 19 dancers.

     For more information, see: www.daytonperformingarts.org or call the Ticket Center Stage at 937.228.3630 to book your passage to baste live in the glory of this ‘crown performing art jewel production’ at the Mead Theatre.


Published by on March 2015. Filed under Art-in-Performance Section, Centerstage Section, News (Time related), Northwest Passage Record/NWPR, Ohio, PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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