The Pearl Fishers. Bizet. ENO

The Pearl Fishers
Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
Director: Penny Woolcock
Conductor: Jean-Luc Tingaud
Opens 16 June 2014 (9 performances)
Penny Woolcock’s dazzling The Pearl Fishers returns to ENO as a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, New York
The Pearl Fishers is a compelling tale of sacrifice, jealously, betrayal, love and friendship revolving around the priestess Leila and the two fishermen vying for her affections. The famous friendship duet In the depths of the temple is one of the most beloved in the opera repertoire.
Now a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, this revival will expand and develop upon the already ‘stunningly beautiful tableau’ which opens the opera, where ‘the entire stage is transformed into an underwater paradise’ (The Telegraph). Stunning stage effects and elaborate video artistry combine with three aerialists who ‘plunge and swim with astonishingly convincing grace and athleticism’ (The Independent) to achieve this mesmerising underwater sequence.  
Throughout this production Penny Woolcock places the sea at the very heart of the action. Portraying the sea as an uncontrollable force, she brings to life a highly relevant contemporary issue as climate change and rising sea levels cause the regular destruction of villages across the Far East.
Penny Woolcock is an award-winning writer/director who has worked extensively in documentary and drama on projects spanning television, film and opera. Her staging of Doctor Atomic at ENO and the Metropolitan Opera received critical acclaim and her previous collaboration with John Adams on the Channel 4 film version of The Death of Klinghoffer won her The Special Prize of the Jury at the Brussels European Film Awards. In November 2010 she won the Grierson Trust’s prestigious Trustees Award and was honoured at The British Documentary awards and at the Media Guardian Sheffield Doc/Fest. Her Channel 4 documentary One Mile Away won the Michael Powell award at the 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival and the ITV Studios Achievement of the Year Award.
ENO has launched the international careers of several exceptionally talented young British singers through its talent development programmes, including former ENO Harewood Artist Sophie Bevan who will sing the role of Leila in this production for the first time. Winner of the prestigious Times Breakthrough Award at the 2012 South Bank Sky Arts Awards and the recipient of the inaugural Young Singer of the Year Award at the 2013 International Opera Awards, Sophie last appeared at the Coliseum as a ‘rapturous’ Sophie (The Independent) in ENO’s highly acclaimed 2012 production of Der Rosenkavalier, where her ‘sublime soprano voice and innocent expression were exactly what [the role] needed’ (Daily Express).
Current ENO Harewood Artists George von Bergen and Barnaby Rea will play the fisherman Zurga and the high priest Nourabad respectively.
Juno Award-winning and internationally acclaimed Canadian tenor John Tessier, who sang ‘exquisitely’ in ENO’s 2011 production of The Elixir of Love (The Guardian), will sing the role of Nadir. Tessier made his British debut in 2008 in ENO’s production of The Barber of Seville, where The Stage praised his ‘effortlessly searing high tenor’ as ‘thrillingly virile’.
Conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud, a specialist in French 19th-century repertoire, makes his UK operatic debut in this production. He made his London debut at the Barbican in 2004 with soloists Johua Bell and Steven Isserlis, and has since worked with orchestras and ensembles around the world, including the Ulster Orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, the Orchestra Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini, the Warsaw and Krakow Philharmonic Orchestras and the Orchestre National de Lyon. In June 2014 he will also lead a concert performance of La bohème at the Salle Pleyel with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and in November he will conduct La fille du regiment at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
The Pearl Fishers opens at the London Coliseum on 16 June for 9 performances – 16, 18, 21, 23, 26 June & 1, 3 July at 7.30pm and 28 June & 5 July at 3pm.
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Pre-performance talk, 18 June, 17:15pm: £5/£2.50 concessions.