Love, desire and betrayal lie at the very heart of The Pearl Fishers, Bizet’s exploration of a friendship tested to the limit.

Here are our top five reasons why we think you’ll want to catch our brand new concert performance of this opera classic as it tours across the north of England.

1. The Composer of Carmen

You may know Georges Bizet as the man who wrote Carmen, but that was actually written a decade after The Pearl Fishers which Bizet composed when he was only 24 years old. Despite being a relative newcomer to the art-form, his striking lyrical gifts are already very much in evidence – perhaps not surprisingly for someone who entered the Paris Conservatoire at the tender age of ten!

During The Pearl Fishers, you can look forward to beautiful melodies, magnificent choruses, imaginative orchestration and music that stays with you long after the performance has finished.

Georges Bizet, 1875 © Étienne Carjat

2. A Dazzling Duet

While you may not think you know ‘Au fond du temple saint’, we guarantee you’ll have heard it before. One of the most recognisable tunes in opera, this famous friendship duet is sung by the tenor (Nico Darmanin) and baritone (Quirijn de Lang) who play Nadir and Zurga, two male friends whose relationship is put to the test when both become entranced by the priestess Leïla (Sophia Theodorides).

Thanks to its beauty and power, the duet was chosen by Peter Weir for the film Gallipoli when two young Australian soldiers swear fidelity to their friendship until death – and it was even performed at the composer’s own funeral service.

3. An Astonishing Aria

Bizet’s music often tugs at the heart strings with its beauty and poignancy. This is evident throughout The Pearl Fishers, particularly at the moments when the characters share their innermost thoughts. Take Nadir’s aria in Act 1, ‘Je crois entendre encore’, when he remembers the emotions he felt on first catching sight of Leïla.

Conductor Matthew Kofi Waldren believes it’s definitely one to look out for: “Nadir’s aria is actually very unusual for 19th century operatic writing. It’s not a heroic tenor aria but incredibly perfumed, delicate and intimate which is a different sound world for opera to be moving into at that time.”

Matthew Kofi Waldren conducting rehearsals for The Pearl Fishers © Tom Arber

4. The Orchestra on Stage

In a concert setting, the focus is firmly on the incredible power of the music. When operas are fully staged in the theatre, the Orchestra of Opera North are positioned in the pit which means they’re only visible to the audience members sitting higher up. One of the joys of a concert performance is that they’re right in front of you on the stage, so everyone gets the chance to see all the players and all the instruments too.

Of course, you can also watch the conductor (Matthew Kofi Waldren in this case) as he ensures the piece is played to perfection – and you get to hear the massed voices of the Chorus of Opera North alongside the four soloists.

Strings of the Orchestra of Opera North in concert © Justin Slee

5. A Different Perspective

While working on this production of The Pearl Fishers, director Matthew Eberhardt has been intrigued by the way in which the composer manages to encompass both the universal and the specific in his music, moving seamlessly from the communal to the deeply personal.

He explains: “I do think Bizet’s score is extraordinary. There are these moments of big anthem-like music and then there are moments of absolute exquisite beauty with the sound of one instrument coming from a distance. It feels like Bizet references the big world we’re in, and then brings it right back to something very small and very detailed. That’s what I’d love people to take away with them.”

Director Matthew Eberhardt with Quirijn de Lang as Zurga in rehearsal for The Pearl Fishers © Tom Arber

The Pearl Fishers concert performance tours to Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on Thursday 8 June, Sage Gateshead on Saturday 17 June, Hull City Hall on Saturday 24 June and the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham on Saturday 1 July.

Book now


Search our site