Nashville Opera opens the 2013-14 season with Bizet's 'The Pearl Fishers'

Nashville Opera presents the opening production of the 2013-14 season, Georges Bizet’s tale of love and jealousy, The Pearl Fishers. The opera opens in a fishing village on the ancient island of Ceylon, with two men reaffirming their friendship after their rivalry for the same woman almost destroyed them both. When she unexpectedly reappears, betrayal and desire turns them against one another as the story moves toward a terrifying and violent climax. 

Nashville Opera offers two performances: Thursday, October 10 at 7 PM and Saturday, October 12 at 8 PM at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Andrew Jackson Hall, located at 505 Deaderick Street in Downtown Nashville. The Pearl Fishers is directed by John Hoomes with Maestro William Boggs leading the Nashville Opera Orchestra. Tickets range from $26 to $102.50 and are available by calling Nashville Opera at (615) 832-5242, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center Box Office at (615) 782-4040, or online at A limited number of “pay-what-you-can” seats may be purchased directly from Nashville Opera’s main offices at the Noah Liff Opera Center in Sylvan Heights. Mr. Hoomes will present the free Opera Insights discussion of the opera one-hour prior to curtain on the Orchestra Level. 

“The genius of Georges Bizet is evident in this opera from the first measures,” said John Hoomes, General and Artistic Director of Nashville Opera. “The soaring arias and lush score display many of the musical elements which made his later masterpiece, Carmen, arguably the most popular work in production today.”

The Pearl Fishers will be sung in French with projected translations in English, and for the first time, simultaneously in Spanish. Nashville Opera recently received a grant from the Metro Nashville Arts Commission to provide bilingual projected translations, study guides, and a web site to promote opera to Spanish-speaking patrons.

The Nashville Opera Guild will host a Pearl Fishers-theme dinner prior to the Saturdayperformance at Waller, Lansden, Dortch, and Davis at 511 Union Street. Reservations are $85 per person and may be obtained by calling Nashville Opera. In addition, the Young Lovers of Opera (YLO) will host a free reception in the Balcony Lobby prior to the Opera Insights discussion on Saturday evening. Reservations are available by calling Nashville Opera’s Community Relations Department at (615) 832-5242.

The cast of internationally acclaimed principal artists includes tenor Harold Meers as Nadir, returning after his turn as the tragic lover in last season’s spectacular Madame Butterfly. Meers is joined by a trio of celebrated American singers, including baritone Craig Verm as Zurga; soprano Heather Buck as Leila, and bass Ben Wager as Nourabad. Mr. Verm, Ms. Buck and Mr. Wager, each highly sought after in companies internationally, make their long awaited Nashville Opera debuts in their respective roles.

The Pearl Fishers was first performed in 1863 at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris, and was given 18 performances in its initial run. At the time of the premiere, Georges Bizet was 25 years old and had yet to establish himself in the Parisian musical world. Despite high praise from the general public, press reactions to the work were generally hostile and dismissive. The opera was not revived in Bizet’s lifetime, but from 1886 onwards it was performed with some regularity in Europe and America, and from the mid-20th century has entered the repertory of opera houses worldwide. The Pearl Fishers Duet in Act I (“Au fond du temple saint”) is one of the most famous arias in opera.

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