LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES
"Les pêcheurs de perles"
Zurga, head fisherman (baritone)
Nadir, a young fisherman (tenor)
Leila, a priestess (soprano)
Nourabad, high priest (bass)
Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet of the Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay
Opera performed in French with synchronized Kazakh and Russian subtitles
Conductor - Yerbolat Akhmedyarov, Honored Figure of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Stage Director - Paolo Bosisio (Italy)
Production Designer - Hella Mombrini (Italy)
Costume Designer - Anita Lamanna (Italy)
Chorus Master - Aliya Temirbekova
Choreographer - Ainur Abilgazina
Night-time. The high priest Nourabad leads Leila to the temple. Nourabad asks Leila, if she can keep her vow of obedience. The girl responds by telling him the story of how she hid a fugitive, and he repaid her with a necklace – here it is. Left alone, Leila ponders her unexpected encounter with Nadir. She is overtaken by the memories of their love. She is frightened when Nadir appears before her: what will happen if they are seen together? Leila begs him to leave; he agrees, only to come back the next day. But the priests are watchful. The perpetrator is caught! Death to the perjurers! Zurga calms them: he is their chief and he will decide their fate. As Nourabad tears off the girl’s veil, Zurga recognizes Leila, the girl who has divided him and Nadir. Blinded by jealousy and thirst for revenge he changes his decision: they are both to be put to death!
Zurga is alone in his tent. He is in agony: how could he, blinded by rage, condemn his friend and his beloved to death? The fishermen bring in Leila, who wants to talk to the chief. She has broken her vow and she is ready to receive her punishment, but Nadir is innocent, and Leila begs fervently for his salvation. Leila’s mediation reawakens Zurga’s jealousy. Offended and eager for revenge, he demands their execution once again. Leila asks a young fisherman for a favour – to take her pearl necklace to her mother. The astonished Zurga recognizes it – the necklace he had once given to a girl who had saved him. He owes his life to the girl he has condemned to death!
premiere of the opera in the Abay Theatre took place on 8 and 9 of November 2014
The first completed opera by Georges Bizet - "Les pêcheurs de perles" - fate has prepared an unfair place "in the shadow" of its more successful older sister (we are talking about the opera "Carmen"). However, this does not detract from the melodic beauty, elegant nuances of instrumentation and the splendor of the unforgettable arias and duets of the opera "Les pêcheurs de perles". The plot created by the young, 24-year-old Georges Bizet, is very traditional. This is the story of a beautiful priestess Leila from the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), who took a vow of chastity, but is ready to break it "under the pressure" of an all-consuming love for the hunter Nadir. A similar story played out on the opera stages of the 19th century long before Bizet. No less often, composers moved events to exotic settings in distant lands. And the story of pearl seekers was originally conceived by the composer in a completely different way. It was supposed to be played out in Mexico, where the hero had to hunt jaguars in the savannah, and the main character had to save him from the wild. However, Bizet opted for the island of Ceylon, making the main characters residents of a tribe of pearl seekers who firmly believe that the singing of beautiful priestesses - virgins inaccessible in their purity - is the strongest protection for seekers from the dangers of the sea. But death is for the priestess who forgets this oath. Having chosen an exotic country, Bizet skillfully “writes” musical pictures of the seascape, creates a real thunderstorm, conveys a barely noticeable swaying of herbs. Against this background, the characters of the main characters are vividly emphasized by the oriental flavor of their musical themes.
It is known that Georges Bizet was interested by this plot when he was not yet 25 years old. The Les pêcheurs de perles appeared exactly 10 years before his most famous opera, Carmen. The Italian Paolo Bosisio, who in 2013 had already prepared the opera "Don Giovanni" at the Abay Theatre, was again invited to stage Bizet's work on the Almaty stage.
“I am staging this opera for the first time in my life,” Bosisio admitted. "She had such a fate that she had both ups and downs since the moment of creation, since 1863. I stick to the classical production, I respect the style and music of that era, but I use my own interpretation. It is a mixture of realism and surrealism. There are four soloists in the production, as well as a choir and a ballet - they are of great importance. My task was made easier by the excellent preparation of the choir. As for the choice for the main parts, I trusted the opinion of the theater directorate and conductor Yerbolat Akhmedyarov.
The debutante Ainur Abilgazina as choreographer, before that she staged divertimentos at the Astana Ballet Theater: "For me it was a difficult job, to stage Indian dances in the opera. I studied these specific movements. Dances carry a sacred meaning, but this is not a classical Indian dance, but a stylized one. My main task was to create the atmosphere.