Opera Abbreviated: The Pearl Fishers

Jan 13, 2016

The Metropolitan Opera presents Georges Bizet's Les pecheurs de perles  (The Pearl Fishers)  live in HD in movie theaters world wide on Saturday, January 16 at 1 pm.

Over 30 years ago I worked as an intern at the New York City Opera, as that late lamented company announced a new production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. ​The opera had last been staged, by the august Metropolitan, back in 1916. Three performances starred Enrico Caruso and Freda Hempel, and even these two didn't prevent a box office flop.

I guess public taste evolved between 1916 and 1980.  I walked into work of a late fall morning to see lines at the box office winding down Amsterdam Avenue. The New York City Opera had another hit on its hands.

The Met's new production of The Pearl Fishers is the company's first in 99 years!

In fact, people had been writing to the Met for years asking for a revival of this tuneful French opera by the young Georges Bizet, written pre-Carmen. ​The standard reply had been,  "We couldn't sell it with Caruso!" 

Phooey. Les pecherus de perles is a beautiful opera. What's not to love:

The public loves a tune, and Bizet knew what he was doing. The plot involves two guys who love the same high-priestess/princess or whatever she is, and a lost necklace. Or bracelet, depending on the stage director. Who cares? Sing along, and enjoy!