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Seattle Opera.

The Pearl Fishers

Hypnotic. Colorful. Lovely.

Oct. 17 - 31, 2015

"A visual and auditory spectacular!" -Huffington Post

Overview

By Georges Bizet

ROMANTIC FANTASY IN THE TROPICS. Escape to an island paradise for a steamy tale of romance and rivalry from the great Georges Bizet (Carmen). The easy-to-follow story depicts a love triangle between an alluring priestess with a mysterious past and a pair of brotherly fishermen. When honor, jealousy, and communal duty threaten the peace, a long-buried secret saves the day and love conquers all—but at what price?

Lose yourself in an ocean of recognizable melodies and masterful orchestration, enjoy extensive choreography, and marvel at eye-popping sets and costumes from award-winning fashion designer Zandra Rhodes (worn by Princess Diana, Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Freddie Mercury, and Helen Mirren). Don’t miss this fabulously colorful creation.


In French with English subtitles | at McCaw Hall 
Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes with 1 intermission
Evenings at 7:30 PM. Sunday matinee at 2:00 PM.

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Synopsis

Long ago, ON A FARAWAY ISLAND...

Act I
It is time for the annual pearl harvest, and a group of villagers gathers at the beach. Zurga is chosen as leader and given the power of life and death over the community. His former friend Nadir, a hunter, returns after a long absence. It is clear that there is still a conflict between them. Left alone, Nadir and Zurga sing the duet, “Au fond du temple saint,” recalling the event that drove them apart. Months earlier, they both fell in love with the same woman. To preserve their friendship, they swear not to pursue her; instead, they vow to be friends until death.

A boat appears, bearing the high priest Nourabad and an unknown, veiled woman from a far-off island. She has been chosen to pray for the divers, to protect them from storms and ward off evil spirits. Zurga tells her if she is solitary and celibate, she will earn the most beautiful pearl found that season. But if she breaks her vow and betrays the village with a man, the punishment is death.

The priestess ascends a rock overlooking the sea to begin her vigil. As she prays, Nadir is once again spellbound by the sound of her voice. In the aria “Je crois entendre encore” he remembers how she enchanted him before; she is Léïla, the woman whom both he and Zurga love, and he has followed her to this village. Léïla realizes that Nadir is secretly listening to her, and her prayer overflows with joy.

Act II
Nourabad reminds Léïla that if she remains true to her oath, she will be protected. Léïla responds with the story of how once, as a girl, she had vowed to protect a fugitive. Even though her life was threatened, she refused to give the man away. He rewarded her with the necklace that she still wears. The priest leaves her. In the aria, “Comme autrefois,” she calms her own fears with the knowledge that Nadir is watching over her.

Nadir comes to her, and in a passionate duet they declare their love. Léïla warns him that if they are seen, they will be put to death. Shouts are heard from below: a storm has lashed the sea into a frenzy. The villagers discover that their priestess has betrayed them with Nadir, and in anger they seize the lovers. Zurga reminds them that only he can deal the death penalty. He decrees that the criminals’ lives will be spared, and tells to them to leave at once. But Nourabad rips off Léïla’s veil, and Zurga recognizes her as the woman that he and Nadir had forsworn. Furious that Nadir has betrayed him, Zurga condemns them both to death. The fury of the storm increases, and everyone prays to Brahma in terror.

Act III
On the beach after the storm, Zurga despairs over his jealousy and thwarted love in the aria “O Nadir.” Léïla is brought in and begs Zurga to save Nadir; she is to blame, she says. But her love for Nadir further inflames Zurga’s fury, and he resolves to have them both killed. Léïla asks one of the villagers to take her necklace to her mother when she is dead. Nourabad seizes the necklace and throws it in front of Zurga. Zurga recognizes the necklace as the one that he once gave to a young girl who saved him. He realizes he owes Léïla his life.

Léïla and Nadir will be killed at dawn, and the villagers sing and dance in bloodthirsty anticipation. As Nadir and Léïla prepare their souls for death, a red glow appears in the distance. Zurga enters, crying out that the village is on fire. The villagers run out in confusion, and Zurga tells Nadir and Léïla that he set the fire in order to save their lives. They escape together, and Zurga takes comfort in the fact that he has repaid his debt to Léïla and kept his vow to Nadir.

Read More

Spotlight on Pearl Fishers

Was the 1863 premiere of The Pearl Fishers well-received? How does French opera differ from Italian? And what's actually involved in fishing for pearls? Learn about the music and historical context of this opera in our in-depth, multimedia Spotlight Guide.

View Spotlight Guide

WAYS TO SAVE

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Cast

Brett Polegato

Zurga

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Zurga, The Pearl Fishers
Previously at Seattle Opera: Dandini, La Cenerentola (’13); Sharpless, Madama Butterfly (’12); Oreste, Iphigénie en Tauride (’07) 

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Recently: Kurwenal, Tristan und Isolde (Opéra National de Bordeaux); Onegin, Eugene Onegin and Marcello, La bohème (Grange Park Opera)
Upcoming:
Kurwenal, Tristan und Isolde (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées); Fritz/Frank, Die tote Stadt (Calgary Opera)

Last updated: October 2015

Brett Polegato

Zurga

Oct. 17, 21, 24, 28 & 31

Keith Phares

Zurga

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Zurga, The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut: Marcello, La bohème (’13)

Hometown: Manalapan, NJ
Recently: Father, The Scarlet Ibis (World Premiere, Prototype Festival); Count Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro (New Orleans Opera); John Sorel, The Consul (Florida Grand Opera)
Upcoming: Charlie, Three Decembers (Florentine Opera); Carmina Burana (Madison Symphony); Elder Tull, Riders of the Purple Sage (World Premiere, Arizona Opera)

Last updated: October 2015

Keith Phares

Zurga

Oct. 18 & 30

Maureen McKay

Léïla

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Léïla, The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut
Seattle Opera Young Artist: 2004/05; 2005/06

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Recently: Nannetta, Falstaff (Saito Kinen Festival); Pamina, The Magic Flute (Komische Oper Berlin tour to Edinburgh Festival); Anne Trulove, The Rake’s Progress (Portland Opera)
Upcoming: Pamina, The Magic Flute (Gran Teatre del Liceu; Soloist, Messiah (Danish
National Symphony Radio); Mabel, The Pirates of Penzance (Atlanta Opera)

Last updated: October 2015

Maureen McKay

Léïla

Seattle Opera Debut
Oct. 17, 21, 24, 28 & 31

Elizabeth Zharoff

Léïla

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Léïla, The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Wenatchee, WA

Recently: Pamina, The Magic Flute (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); Violetta, La traviata
(English National Opera); Esther, Morning Star, (World Premiere at Cincinnati Opera)
Upcoming: LA Opera Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program

Last updated: October 2015

Elizabeth Zharoff

Léïla

Seattle Opera Debut
Oct. 18 & 30

John Tessier

Nadir

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nadir, The Pearl Fishers; Earl of Leicester, Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut: Tamino, The Magic Flute ('11)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Nadir, The Pearl Fishers ('15); Jacquino, Fidelio ('12)

Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Assistant Professor of Voice, University of Alberta
Recently: Count Almaviva, Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Arturo, I puritani (Vienna Staatsoper); Don Ramiro, La Cenerentola (New Zealand Opera)
Upcoming: Camille de Rosillon, The Merry Widow (Boston Lyric Opera)

Last updated: February 2016

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John Tessier

Nadir

Oct. 17, 21, 24, 28 & 31

Anthony Kalil

Nadir

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nadir, The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Goshen, IN

Recently: Duke of Mantua, Rigoletto (Arizona Opera); Rodolfo, La bohème (Palm Beach Opera); Ruggero, La rondine (Opera Theatre of St. Louis)
Upcoming: Rodolfo, La bohème (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); Concert Tour with Metropolitan Opera; Faust, Le damnation de Faust (Teatro Municipal
de Santiago, Chile)

Last updated: October 2015

Anthony Kalil

Nadir

Seattle Opera Debut
Oct. 18 & 30

Jonathan Lemalu

Nourabad

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nourabad, The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Dunedin, New Zealand
Recently: Sergeant of Police, The Pirates of Penzance and Pogner, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (English National Opera); Falstaff, Falstaff (Oper Frankfurt)
Upcoming: Christus, St Matthew Passion (Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg); Belshazzar’s Feast (Hong Kong Philharmonic); Leporello, Don Giovanni (Theater an der Wien)

Last updated: October 2015

Jonathan Lemalu

Nourabad

Seattle Opera Debut
Oct. 17, 21, 24, 28 & 31

Joo Won Kang

Nourabad

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nourabad, The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Gunsan City, Korea
Recently: Marcello, La bohème (San Francisco Opera); Germont, La traviata (North Carolina Opera); Sharpless, Madama Butterfly (Wolf Trap Opera)
Upcoming: Onegin, Eugene Onegin (North Carolina Opera); Figaro, The Barber of Seville (Fort Worth Opera), Corrado, Maria de Rudenz (Wexford Festival Opera)

Last updated: October 2015

Joo Won Kang

Nourabad

Seattle Opera Debut
Oct. 18 & 30

Kyle Bernbach

Principal Dancer

Dancer (Los Angeles, CA)

Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Recently:
A Chorus Line; Carousel; Jasper in Deadland (5th Ave Theatre)
Upcoming: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; Paint Your Wagon (5th Ave Theatre)

 

Last updated: October 2015

Kyle Bernbach

Principal Dancer

Seattle Opera Debut
Oct. 17, 18, 21, 24, 28, 30, & 31

Roxanne Foster

Principal Dancer

Seattle Opera Debut: The Pearl Fishers (’09)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Semele (’15); Don Giovanni (’14); Rigoletto (’14)

Hometown: Bainbridge Island, WA
Recently:
Turandot (Utah Opera); When Jupiter met Saturn (On the Boards)
Upcoming: The Nutcracker (Dance Ensemble Northwest); Turandot (Opera Philadelphia)

 

Last updated: October 2015

Roxanne Foster

Principal Dancer

Oct. 17, 18, 21, 24, 28, 30, & 31

Kyle Johnson

Principal Dancer

Seattle Opera Debut: Don Quichotte (’11) 
Previously at Seattle Opera: Orphée et Eurydice (’12), Carmen (’11), The Magic Flute (’11)

Hometown: Tacoma, WA
Recently:
Choreographic Shindig (Whim W’Him); Cinderella (Tacoma City Ballet); Firebird (Ballet Bellevue)
Upcoming: La Revue de Cuisine (Music of Remembrance); IN-spired (Whim W’Him); Carmina Burana (Tacoma City Ballet)

 

Last updated: October 2015

Kyle Johnson

Principal Dancer

Oct. 17, 18, 21, 24, 28, 30, & 31

Cast

Creative Team

Emmanuel Joel-Hornak

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Montpellier, France
Recently: La traviata (New Zealand Opera); The Tales of Hoffmann (Opera Hong Kong); The Pearl Fishers (Opera Carolina)
Upcoming: Macbeth (Israeli Opera)

Last updated: October 2015

Emmanuel Joel-Hornak

Conductor

Seattle Opera Debut

Andrew Sinclair

Director

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut: Le nozze di Figaro, 1989

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Recently: La traviata (Royal Opera Covent Garden); Pagliacci, Aida (San Diego Opera)
Upcoming:Tosca and Werther (Royal Opera Covent Garden)

Last updated: October 2015

Andrew Sinclair

Director

John Malashock

Choreographer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: San Diego, CA
Artistic Director, Malashock Dance, San Diego

Recently: The Pearl Fishers (Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera); Aida (San Diego Opera)
Upcoming: Snakeskin (U.C. San Diego); Chagall (La Jolla Playhouse)

Last updated: October 2015

John Malashock

Choreographer

Seattle Opera Debut

Zandra Rhodes

Set & Costume Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: The Pearl Fishers
Seattle Opera Debut and Artist of the Year: The Magic Flute (’11)
Hometown: Chatham, UK

Zandra Rhodes made her name in the fashion industry prior to delving into costume design for opera. In 1977 she pioneered the pink and black jersey collection with holes and safety pins that earned her the name of “Princess of Punk,” and in 2014 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her contribution to fashion and textiles. Her production of The Pearl Fishers has been to San Francisco, New York, Washington National Opera, and L’Opéra de Montréal. She will participate in Fashion Week in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 with her collection of hand-painted batiks for Kraftangan.

Last updated: October 2015

Zandra Rhodes

Set & Costume Designer

Ron Vodicka

Lighting Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: The Pearl Fishers

Hometown: San Diego, CA
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Production Stage Manager, The Lion King (Broadway); Lighting Designer, La bohème (Palm Beach Opera); Lighting Designer, Almost Tango (Ballet West)

Updated: October 2015 

Ron Vodicka

Lighting Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Joyce Degenfelder

Hair and Makeup Designer

Hair and Makeup Designer (Los Angeles, CA)

Joyce Degenfelder’s association with Seattle Opera began in 1992 with The Ballad of Baby Doe. In 2003, Degenfelder made her Seattle Opera design debut with Parsifal, and ever since she has designed makeup and wigs for all of Seattle Opera’s productions. In addition to her work with Seattle Opera, she is also wig master for Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and ACT Theater. Her work has been seen around the country including Seattle Children’s Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Alaska Repertory Theatre, and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

Read our interview with Joyce Degenfelder HERE.

Last Updated: October 2015

Joyce Degenfelder

Hair and Makeup Designer

Jonathan Dean

English Captions

Hometown: Okemos, MI
Seattle Opera Debut: Le nozze di Figaro ('97)
In-House Dramaturg for Seattle Opera
Previously at Seattle Opera:
English Captions Titlist (from Carmen '95 to Carmen '04); pre-performance lecturer (from Lohengrin '04 through Amelia '10); creator of the children’s operas Theft of the Gold and Siegfried and the Ring of Fire

Jonathan Dean

English Captions

Creative Team

Orchestra, Chorus, & Additional Artists

Orchestra

Violin I
Jeannie Wells Yablonsky, Concertmaster
Jennifer Bai
Mariel Bailey
Blayne Barnes
Cecilia Poellein Buss
Kelly Farris
Ayako Gamo
Timothy Garland, Assistant Concertmaster
Mikhail Shmidt
Clark Story

Violin II
Michael Miropolsky, Principal
Evan Anderson
Natasha Bazhanov
Linda Cole
Xiao-Po Fei
Gennady Filimonov, Assistant Principal
Sande Gillette
Arthur Girsky

Viola
Susan Gulkis Assadi, Principal
Penelope Crane
Mara Gearman, Assistant Principal
Laura Renz
Rachel Swerdlow
Julie Whitton

Cello
Eric Han, Principal
Walter Gray
Vivian Gu
Rowena Hammill
Charles Jacot
Joy Payton-Stevens, Assistant Principal

Bass
Jordan Anderson, Principal
Jonathan Burnstein
Jennifer Godfrey
Travis Gore, Assistant Principal

Flute/Piccolo
Judith Kriewall
Robin Peery

Oboe
Ben Hausmann, Principal
Stefan Farkas

Clarinet
Eric Jacobs
Craig Rine

Bassoon
Seth Krimsky, Principal
Mike Gamburg

Horn
Jeff Fair, Principal
John Karschney
Cara Kizer
John Turman

Trumpet
David Gordon, Principal
Vinnie Green

Trombone
Ko-ichiro Yamamoto, Principal
David Ritt
Stephen Fissel

Timpani
Michael Crusoe, Principal

Percussion
Michael Werner, Principal
Michael Clark
Matt Kocmieroski

Harp
Valerie Muzzolini Gordon, Principal

Personnel Manager
Scott Wilson

Assistant Personnel Manager
Keith Higgins

The Orchestra is composed of members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Rotating members of the string section are listed alphabetically.

 

Chorus

Soprano
Donna Baldwin
Jennifer Bromagen
Jennifer Ceresa
Melanie Hingson
Dana Johnson
Mary McLaughlin
Heather Mullin
Eleanor Stallcop-Horrox
Kimberly Waite
Erin White
Eliza Woodyard

Mezzo-Soprano
Linda Baird
Lorraine Burdick
Laura Eichelberger
YeonSoo Lee
Rachelle Moss
Gail Neil
Elizabeth Peterson
Melissa Plagemann
Allison Brooke Robertson
Susan Salas

Tenor
Nathan Barnes
Joel Cummings
Jon Farmer
Tim Janecke
Dustin Kaspar
Bob Leavens
Joshua Quesada
Derek Sellers
Logan Skirm
Stephen Wall

Bass
Daniel Aarthun
Michael Dunlap
Craig Grayson
Glenn Guhr
Tom Hingson
Gregory Lewis
Dierre Lopez
Misha Myznikov
Revere Taylor
Brett Youngquist

Dancers

Lucie Baker
Stacy Brenner
Bojohn Disciple
Eric Esteb
Rachel Randall
Justin Reiter
Ethan Rome

Actors

Justin Alley
Richard Eidal
Jim Harvill
T. J. Mustard
Will Rose
Kevin Swantek

Supernumeraries

Jimmy Harrop
Curtis Notestine
John Smilgin
Adam Tamble

 

 

Orchestra, Chorus, & Additional Artists

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All performances take place at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street, Seattle. Join our email list to receive personalized alerts with updates on traffic, dining, and parking for your specific performance, or choose a topic below to learn more.

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Production Sponsors

Marks Family Foundation

Main Photo © Ken Howard/San Diego Opera | Photos © Elise Bakketun, © Philip Newton, © Elise Bakketun