Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Strange Love: Toledo Opera’s season debut, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers

Two friends fall irrevocably in love with the same woman, but there’s a twist: the young men vow to forsake the beautiful maiden to preserve their friendship. It’s not until years later, through an accidental encounter, that the priestess reenters their lives and almost destroys their bond.

Georges Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers follows the journey of these “two men who are in the dangerous business of diving for pearls, and whose love for the same woman almost ruins the friendship years later,” explains Suzanne Rorick, executive director of Toledo Opera.

First Toledo Performance

Never before performed in Toledo, The Pearl Fishers is described by Rorick as a “wonderful work of opera. The music is beautiful, the costumes are exotic, [and] the story is interesting. It’s guaranteed to be phenomenal.”

This first opera of the 2017-2018 Toledo Opera season, directed by Bernard Uzan, features projected imagery by Michael Baumgarten and choreography by Nigel Burgoine. In his Toledo Opera debut, John Baril conducts the acclaimed cast, Toledo Symphony Orchestra and Toledo Opera Chorus.

Georges Bizet, the composer, lived a short life, so his works are few. Even though he is best known for his opera Carmen, he died only three months after its lackluster grand opening, thinking the great opera a dismal failure. His operas did not gain popularity until decades later.

Cast and Chorus of the Opera

Toledo Opera selected The Pearl Fishers two years ago, and the show was cast last winter. Comprised of local talent from BGSU and the University of Toledo, the chorus started rehearsing in early August. As for the principal cast, Rorick explains, “We get the best artists we can find, and we get incredible talent because…we are a cog in the very small world of high quality opera.”

“We provide emerging artists a place to practice their art before they make it big,” Rorick continues. “You come out of college with a master’s, and you have to start performing somewhere.” Toledo Opera helped begin the careers of world-renowned performers such as Renee Fleming, one of the great talents at The Metropolitan Opera for years.

American soprano Danielle Pastin sings the role of Leila, the priestess. Tenor Yi Li and baritone Luis Ledesma perform as Nadir and Zurga, the two fishermen. Bass Kevin Langan rounds out the cast as the high priest Nourabad. The production is sponsored by ProMedica and Blade Communications, Inc. with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council.

Students can view a special performance of the opera at 7pm Wednesday, October 11, sponsored by The Andersons, for only $5. Contact the Toledo Opera Box Office for details.

7:30pm. Friday, October 13. 2pm, Sunday, October 15. |
The Valentine Theater
410 Adams St., 419-255-7465. Toledoopera.org

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