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The Sunday Opera: Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers" from the Lyric Opera

The Sunday Opera will be traveling to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) this week (7/12 3:00 p.m.) with George Bizet’s “Les pecheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers)” in a production by the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Set in “ancient times,” the opera looks at a friendship that is destroyed by love.  Here, Zurga (Mariusz Kwiecien) and Nadir (Matthew Polenzani) have both fallen in love with the priestess Leila (Marina Rebeka) but make a solemn promise to each other that neither man would act on that love since it almost destroyed their friendship. 

Some time passes, and Nadir arrives in Zurga’s village where the two have a warm reunion.  Soon after, the new priestess arrives, and both men are troubled when they find that it is Leila.  It soon becomes apparent that Nadir has in fact pursued Leila, and the two have had a relationship which should mean that both Nadir and Leila are to be put to death.  Zurga feels betrayed by Nadir, especially since he still longs for Leila, and seems to be determined to follow the demands of the high priest Nourabad (Andrea Silvestrelli) that he kill his long-time friend and the woman he still loves.  Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Orchestra and Chorus.  Stay tuned for more of Bizet’s music after the opera as we explore an overlooked comic opera entitled “Don Procopio.”  If you know the story of Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale,” you’ll know this, but the music is all a wonderfully youthful Bizet.  We’ll close the afternoon on a bit more familiar turf with Bizet’s Symphony in C major written when he was seventeen.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.