What You Need to Know About
The Pearl Fishers
at Lyric Opera of Chicago
November 19 – December 10
A tale of conflicted friendship, love, and broken vows featuring opera’s most iconic tenor-baritone duet starring Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecień, and Marina Rebeka
For sheer transcendent beauty, Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers has few rivals in the entire repertoire. He transports us to Ceylon, where two devoted friends find themselves in love with the same woman, an entrancingly beautiful priestess, Leïla. The Pearl Fishers demands the ultimate in vocal beauty and elegance to do justice to this sweepingly romantic drama.
- Torn between duty and desire — The Pearl Fishers is a captivating tale in which a love triangle tests the bonds of friendship, political power, and sacred vows.
- Bizet was just 25 when he composed this opera in 1863, a dozen years before Carmen made him famous.
- The popularity of The Pearl Fishers has surged in recent years, with new productions winning audience and critical acclaim internationally.
- You’ll recognize the soaringly beautiful melody of the famous tenor-baritone duet, “Au fond du temple saint” (“At the back of the holy temple”) from films and commercials — now hear it complete and in context.
- Our splendid international artists will move you with their ardent singing and impassioned acting.
- The story: On the day the village elects Zurga (baritone Mariusz Kwiecień) as its new chief, Nadir (tenor Matthew Polenzani) returns after a long absence. Their friendship had been threatened by their love of the same woman; they reconcile briefly, until they discover that the enchanting priestess from long ago, Leïla (soprano Marina Rebeka), is in their midst. The high priest Nourabad (bass Andrea Silvestrelli) represents the old order and severe punishment for broken vows.
- Operatic double-header by Ryan Opera Center alumnus Matthew Polenzani, who also portrays the Duke in Rigoletto at Lyric (through Nov. 3).
- Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director, in his first exploration of this opera score.
- Lyric Opera Chorus prepared by Michael Black, Lyric’s chorus master.
- New-to-Chicago Production directed by Andrew Sinclair.
- Wildly colorful set and costume designs by fashion legend Zandra Rhodes (Lyric debut) with lighting design by Ron Vodicka (Lyric debut) will transport audiences.
- Powerful, vivid choreography by John Malashock (Lyric debut) propels the story.
- 7 Performances Sunday November 19 through Sunday December 10 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago.
- Only 2 hours 15 minutes, including intermission.
- Performances start at 2:00pm & 7:30pm, and doors open to the Rice Grand Foyer and Opera Club two hours before curtain.
- 30-minute preview talk about the opera before every performance — Come to the theater one hour before the curtain rises for a free pre-opera talk about the composer, the themes within the music and drama, and overall production.
- Sung in French with projected English translations.
- The Pearl Fishers has been presented in only three previous seasons at Lyric: in 1966, in 1997-98, and in 2008-09.
The opening-night performance of The Pearl Fishers can be heard live locally on 98.7WFMT and globally on wfmt.com, beginning at 1:45pm.
For more information and to order tickets, visit lyricopera.org/PearlFishers or call 312-827-5600.