How The Pearlfishers Tells Us That 163-Year-Old Deception Is Still A Thing Today
No one ever takes that kindly to being deceived. They didn’t 163 years ago and they still don’t today. The old adage fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you comes to mind, despite the fact the story in the libretto of renowned opera The Pearlfishers from 1863 by Georges Bizet is based around one strong case of it that derails the lives of the characters’ immediate entire world.
Based in Sri Lanka (then, Ceylon) during a period of meek colonisation, The Pearlfishers touches on a lot of issues that still stand today. Reliance on religion, hierarchical perching of white supremacists and playing of people’s beliefs for personal gain all come into play to the tune of Opera Australia‘s reproduction of the the classic by director, Michael Gow and designer, Robert Kemp.
The Pearlfishers is a story that’s quite interesting, however, as it has been changed many times through history to the ebb and flow or the preferences of each show’s creative direction. They say it’s hard to know what Bizet wanted – despite the fact he had the opera’s most renowned homo hominis duet performed even at his funeral service. Here’s a rendition that you probably would’ve heard before.
The show’s standouts as enlivened permanently in the tale are those of protagonists Nadir, the out-of-town visitor (tenor, Pavol Breslik) and Zurga, king of the pearlfishers (baritone, Jose Carbo). Their duet is one for the ages, and their characters stipulate the faults of humanity – especially men – when it comes to women and the history any man can have around the world from sexual conquests, to draw a more 21st century scope onto it all.
Perhaps the most interesting character it that of Leila (soprano, Ekatalina Siurina), the woman between the two men who ultimately leads to the climax of the show: a melodramatic outcome that surely wits within the minds of many these days who’re deceived.
The stageplay makes amazing use of brilliant prop work and scenery, lead by stage manager Crissie Higgins. Periodic, exotic, historial and colonial, all changes through the three acts of the production were flawless and do nothing but seamlessly aid the telling of the story from the shores of Colonial Ceylon.
The Pearlfishers is on til 12 March 2016. See more at Opera Australia.