Les pêcheurs de perles (The pearl fishers)
Conductor: Oleg Caetani
Music by Georges Bizet
Opera in three acts
libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré
sung in French with surtitles in Italian and English
Director Fabio Sparvoli
Revival director Carlo Antonio De Lucia
Set designer Giorgio Ricchelli
Costume designer Alessandra Torella
A production by Fondazione Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi di Trieste
Characters & performers
|Nadir, un pescatore||Jésus Léon (10, 12, 14, 18/III)|
|Merto Sungu (11, 16/III)|
|Zurga, il capo dei pescatori||Domenico Balzani (10, 12, 14, 18/III)|
|Stefano Meo (11, 16/III)|
|Léïla, una sacerdotessa||Mihaela Marcu (10, 12, 14, 18/III)|
|Hye myung Kang (11, 16/III)|
|Nourabad, un gran sacerdote di Brahma||Gianluca Breda|
|Pescatori, Fakiri, Sacerdoti, Maliarde, ecc.|
|L’azione ha luogo nell’isola di Ceylan,|
|in un’epoca indeterminata.|
RUNNING TIME: ABOUT 2 HRS. 20 MIN.
ACT ONE: ABOUT 45 MIN.
BREAK: ABOUT 25 MIN.
ACT TWO & THREE: ABOUT 70 MIN.
In the island of Ceylon, on a dry and wild shore overlooked by ruins, under the burning sun, a group of pearl divers, women and children are raising huts under the shadow of huge palms. Other ones are drinking and dancing. It’s the tribe that has took possession of the shore and is now building a village. The merry choir is interrupted by Zurga, who reproaches and invites them to elect the new chief. They hail the same Zurga. Meanwhile, a man appears and Zurga identifies him as Nadir, an old childhood friend, who’s left the tribe to live in the jungle as a hunter. The joy for his return is celebrated with a hymn to the sun. But why did the young Nadir prefer to be a hunter rather than staying with his mates? Left alone, the two friends recall the past. Long ago, at sunset, Zurga and Nadir were listening to the voice of a Brahman who was calling the believers to pray, when a veiled girl appeared at the temple door and the crowd welcomed her with joy. As she raised the veil, her beauty deeply stroke the two boys who, upset, saw her disappear. Nadir tried to forget her but in vain, so he went into the jungle and Zurga kept on living always thinking about her. But once again they swear each other that their love for the girl will never break their friendship.
The pearl divers and the other natives break into the scene again, as a pirogue moves forward in the sea. Zurga explains that, according to an ancient custom, every year the old men set out for distant lands looking for a beautiful and wise virgin who, sitting on the rock that looks out on the sea, will sing and pray Brahma to protect the men who swim down the abysses to fish the pearls. For a whole year the girl has to be veiled, nobody can see her, or get close to her, so to avoid the god’s rage. Léïla, wrapped in wide veils, gets down the pirogue followed by the priest Nourabad, and proceeds among the women, who are offering flowers. Nadir follows her with his look, as absorbed in a dark foreboding, while Zurga invites the girl to the swearing ceremony, promising her that she’ll receive as a reward the most beautiful pearl that is going to be fished within the year. But, if she doesn’t resist to love temptations, she’ll be sentenced to death. Léïla swears but, as she’s about to go to the temple, she sees Nadir and recognizes him. Left alone, Nadir cries out that he’s recognized in Léïla the beloved girl. Meanwhile, Léïla appears on the high rock and, as the fakirs draw magic circles around the fire lit by Nourabad, she raises her invocation to Brahma. Nadir, secretly drags himself at the rock feet. Léïla bends down to him and lifts the veil for a moment.
Among the ruins of an Indian temple, Nourabad announces to Léïla that the divers’ pirogues have been pulled to the shore and that she can have a rest. Léïla is scared of staying alone in that lonely place, but Nourabad reassures her telling that the fakirs will watch over her and that no danger threatens her, as long as she doesn’t break the oath she has swore to Zurga. Léïla tells him how once she has succeeded in keeping an oath, risking her own life. One night a fugitive knocked at her door, seeking refuge. She put him up and didn’t reveal his presence to the pursuers, even though they menaced her. As a pledge, the young man gave her a pearl necklace, swearing that he would have protect and save her if the case should turn up. Left alone, Léïla recalls with a song her love for Nadir, while Nadir, in the night shadow, gets closer to her. The two lovers meet, taking advantage of darkness, but Nourabad and the fakirs take Nadir prisoner. The divers, attracted by the shouts, rush there and surround the guilty lovers, but Zurga arrives, too, wishing to save them. But Nadir tears the veils that hide Léïla’s face: Zurga recognizes his beloved girl and so, mad for jealousy, decides to forsake them.
Zurga, feeling regret, wishes to forgive his friend and save him. But Léïla’s sudden appearance renews his jealousy, which grows more and more furious as the girl implores Zurga to kill her only and to save Nadir. Nourabad cuts off the painful talk announcing that the stake is ready. Leaving the tent, Léïla gives the pearl necklace to a man, begging him to take it to her mother. Zurga snatches it from his hand and sees that it is the necklace he’d given to the girl that had saved him. The stake has been raised on the shore. The natives start dancing and invoke Brahma. Léïla and Nadir appear, preceded by the priests and Nourabad; they’re about to get up the stake, when suddenly Zurga rushes in with a hatchet, shouting: that night is not a good one for the sacrifice, God does not want it. God has set the huts on fire and Zurga urges all of them to run to the village and save the children. But, left alone with Léïla and Nadir, he confesses that he had set the fire, trying to save their lives. He breaks the chains and shows Léïla the necklace. Nourabad, who has stayed in hiding, hears all the conversation and runs to inform the villagers. The enraged crowd reappears on the scene and, as Léïla and Nadir bring themselves to safety, Zurga kills himself.