The Pearl Fishers

Bizet's The Pearl Fishers

Friday, October 13, 2017 at 7:30pm & Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 2pm

Student Night at the Opera Performance on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 7pm

The Historic Valentine Theatre - Conducted by John Baril - Directed by Bernard Uzan

Each day, the pearl fishers of Sri Lanka risk their lives in the pursuit of beauty, but love proves the more dangerous quest. Passion complicates loyalty and duty in French composer Georg Bizet’s moving and beautiful opera. The lush tropical setting will be created by an innovative, fully-staged, production designed by director Bernard Uzan and featuring projected imagery by Michael Baumgarten. An acclaimed cast, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and the Toledo Opera Chorus, will be led by conductor John Baril in his Toledo Opera debut.

Act 1

A pearl-diving village in the Far East.

As the villagers prepare for their dive, they sing of the dangers of the the sea. Zurga calls on them to elect a new leader and the villagers unanimously choose him.

Zurga’s old friend Nadir returns to the village after spending a year away. Zurga welcomes him and together they recall that their friendship was almost destroyed when they both fell in love with a Hindu priestess. Nadir swears he has kept the vow they both made to protect their friendship by staying away from her.

A boat arrives carrying a veiled girl: the priestess chosen to sing and pray all night to bless the fishing season. She is accompanied by the Nourabad, the high priest. Although she is veiled, Nadir immediately realizes she is Leïla, the priestess he still loves. Zurga, who does not recognize her, imposes an oath of obedience upon her on pain of death – Leïla is to remain veiled and pure. Her reward for keeping the divers safe from harm will be their finest pearl.

Nadir, alone, confesses that he and Leïla have met illicitly and that he has followed her to the village. He listens as she begins her incantation and, unable to resist any longer, calls out to her. She breaks off, answering his love.

Act 2

Nourabad tells Leïla that the divers have returned safely and she can now sleep until morning in the temple. He stresses the importance of her vow. She describes how as a little girl, she once protected a fugitive. The man she saved gave her a necklace, which she wears to this day.

In her sleep, Leïla dreams of Nadir, who is making his way to the temple. Nadir’s voice approaches and the lovers are reunited. As a storm breaks out, the couple are discovered by Nourabad, who blames them for the storm. Zurga protects his friend from the fury of the villagers, who demand his immediate death. Nourabad tears off Leïla’s veil. Zurga finally recognizes Leïla and realizes that Nadir has betrayed their oath. He angrily demands death for the guilty couple.

Act 3

The storm has died away but the village has suffered terrible damage from flooding. Zurga’s anger has passed and he sadly reflects on Nadir’s fate.

Leïla begs Zurga to save Nadir’s life, but his jealousy rages  when he realises how much Leïla loves his rival. He allows Nourabad to take her to be sacrificed together with Nadir. Before she leaves, she gives her special necklace to one of the young divers and asks him to give it to her mother. Zurga seizes the necklace with a cry.

The pearl fishers prepare for the ritual deaths of Leïla and Nadir at dawn. Zurga stops them with the news that the village is on fire, and the villagers flee to try and save their children. Zurga releases Nadir and Leïla and explains that he set the village alight in order to rescue them. He reveals that he was the fugitive Leïla saved many years ago. The lovers gratefully make their escape and Zurga is left to face the consequences of his actions. (Courtesy of English National Opera.)

Danielle Pastin (Leila)

Quoted as having “a lovely demeanor and irresistible creamy timbre” by Opera News, fast-rising, young American soprano Danielle Pastin is quickly gaining attention from opera houses around the country. This season, Ms. Pastin performs in Madama Butterfly as Cio-Cio San with Northern Lights Music Festival, in La traviata as Violetta with Pittsburgh Opera, in Turandot as Liú with Virginia Opera, and in Three Way (as Connie in “Masquerade” and Maya in “The Companion”) with Nashville Opera and at BAM. Recently, Ms. Pastin has performed around her country, with roles such as Desdemona in Otello at Pittsburgh Opera and Dayton Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at Austin Lyric Opera, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Opera Naples, Liú in Turandot at Nashville Opera, Fiordiligi in Cosí fan tutte at Pittsburgh Opera, Hannah in The Merry Widow at Pensacola Opera, and Masha in the world première of Ben Moore’s new opera Enemies, A Love Story at Palm Beach Opera. She also recently sang a Gala Concert with Macau-Beijing Festival in China. She made her main-stage Metropolitan Opera début singing Masha and covering Chloë in The Queen of Spades and has been invited back several times since, covering the role of Javotte in a new production of Massenet’s Manon, covering Samaritana in Francesca da Rimini, and, most recently, singing Frasquita in Carmen, a role she also performed in her début with the Dallas Opera.

Yi Li (Nadir)

Proving himself a formidable talent and a rising star to watch in the opera world, Tenor Yi Li is quickly gaining attention in the lyric tenor repertoire. This season, he sings in Huang Ruo’s Paradise Interrupted, an innovative contemporary opera that the Wall Street Journal hailed “a mesmerizing new work that is part opera, part dynamic art installation,’ which he will perform with the Lincoln Center Festival, Singapore International Festival of the Arts, and Lincoln Center 2nd Annual Global Exchange. He will also perform the role of Alfredo in La traviata with Finger Lakes Opera; Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera; and joins the esteemed roster of The Metropolitan Opera for productions of Manon Lescaut, Roméo et Juliette, and Der fliegende Holländer. Some highlights from Mr. Li’s recent seasons include the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Intermountain Opera Bozeman and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Malcom in Macbeth with Middlebury Opera Company; Cassio in Otello at The National Center Performing Arts in Beijing; and concert engagements with Indianapolis Opera’s Opera’s Rising Stars Concert and a Chinese New Year Concert with Shenzen Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center. He also received a grant from Giulio Gari Foundation and performed at their annual gala.


Luis Ledesma (Zurga)

Luis Ledesma is an established international singer with powerful, yet refined vocal and theatrical gifts. Born in Mexico City, his career advanced in Europe and in the United States after a young artist residency at The Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and winning several competitions, including the Pavarotti International Voice Competition and Julian Gayarre Competition in Spain. This season, Mr. Ledesma will make his role début as Alvaro in Florencia en el Amazonas with New York City Opera, perform Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera San Antonio, and reprise the role of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Palm Beach Opera. North American engagements include the title role in Macbeth and the role of Marcello in La bohème with Palm Beach Opera; Scarpia in Tosca with Atlanta Opera, Arizona Opera, Nashville Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara; Tonio in Pagliacci for Opera Lyra Ottawa and Michigan Opera Theatre; Escamillo in Carmen for Arizona Opera, Manitoba Opera, and The Orlando Philharmonic; Gerard in Andrea Chenier for Nashville Opera; Valentin in Faust for Hawaii Opera, Opera Naples, and Fresno Grand Opera; the title role of Rigoletto for Florentine Opera; Jack Rance in La fanciulla del west with Opéra de Montréal; Germont in La traviata with Florida Grand Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre; and created the role of Augustino in the world première of Pepe Martinez’ newly commissioned mariachi opera El Pasado nunca se termina with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and San Diego Opera.

Kevin Langan (Nourabad)

American bass Kevin Langan has earned a sterling reputation as a leading performer in opera and concert with international audiences. His “deep, toffee-smooth voice and convincing interpretive abilities” (New York Times) have made him a favorite in opera companies throughout the world. Mr. Langan has been a company favorite with San Francisco Opera for over 30 years and where he recently became the first artist in the 88-year history of the company to reach the lofty level of 300 career performances in leading roles of 43 different productions, beginning with Samson et Dalila through critically acclaimed performances of Timur (Turandot), Colline (La Bohème), Ramfis (Aïda), Padre Guardiano (La Forza del Destino), Henry VIII (Anna Bolena), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Sobakin (The Tsar’s Bride), and Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte). Mr. Langan’s “notable Sarastro” (The New Yorker) was also heard in Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Diego, Austin, Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Omaha, West Palm Beach, Washington, and Santa Fe. Toledo audiences will remember Mr. Langan as Don Basilio in last year’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.

John Baril, Conductor

One of the industry’s most versatile conductors, John Baril regularly leads critically acclaimed performances of symphonic and choral music, ballet, opera, operetta and musical theater in notable theatres worldwide. Gaining critical acclaim for his solid technique and sensitivity, The Boulder Daily Camera hailed: “John Baril, always superb in the pit, again leads a polished, professional orchestra through a sensitive reading of the score. Baril knows what the singers need and consistently provides it.” In 2006, Maestro Baril was appointed the first Music Director at Central City Opera, where he had progressed through various leadership roles since 1992. Under his baton, the company enjoyed numerous critically acclaimed performances spanning a wide repertoire including: the regional première of Adamo’s Little Women; a sold-out revival of Carmen, marking the first opera to be sung in French at Central City; Pagliacci and Goyescas; Les contes d’Hoffmann; Madama Butterfly, marking the directorial début of Catherine Malfitano; Massenet’s Cendrillon; West Side Story; and teamed up again with Malfitano for a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Also for Central City, he led performances of Don Giovanni; La bohème; Il barbiere di Siviglia; La traviata; Heggie’s Three Decembers and Dead Man Walking; and a triple bill of Gianni Schicchi, Die Sieben Todsünden and Les mamelles de Tirésias.

Bernard Uzan, Stage Director

Bernard Uzan’s extensive background in the performing arts includes great achievement as a general director, artistic director, stage director, artist manager, set designer, librettist, educator, actor, and published novelist and Internet journalist. As a stage director and producer, his 400 productions have won numerous awards and appeared on the stages of more than 100 opera companies throughout the world in such cities as Charlotte, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Catania, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Mexico City, Miami, Monte Carlo, Palermo, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Santiago, Seattle, Zurich, Toronto, Vancouver, and Erfurt, where his recent production of Carmen was voted Best Production of the Year. In 2008, his novel The Shattered Sky was published in both French and English by Enigma Books, and became Mr. Uzan’s first English language published work. His blog, The Wooden Sword, has an avid fan base, and will soon be collated to create his second published novel. Mr. Uzan has directed several smashing productions for Toledo Opera including Faust, Lucia di Lammermoor, Roméo et Juliette, and last season’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Nigel Burgoine, Choreographer

Nigel Burgoine is the Artistic Director for the Ballet Theatre of Toledo. A classical ballet instructor and choreographer, he is a graduate of the Royal Ballet School and former Principal Dancer with the London Festival Ballet.   Mr. Burgoine has danced around the world in Australia, Brazil, Africa, and throughout Europe. He danced principal roles in Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet to name a few. He is the past Artistic Director of Toledo Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet as well as the past Director of the British Ballet Organization. Mr. Burgoine implemented education programs for dancers and communities in cities in Norway, Spain, England and the United States and was the founder and member of the London Festival Ballet Education Team. He served as director of the education unit of the London City Ballet and the Dallas Ballet. Mr. Burgoine has choreographed productions of Nutcracker, Cinderella, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Carmen, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Coppelia and Aladdin. He is married to BTT Associate Artistic Director Anne Marie Getz.

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