Glowing “Pearl Fishers” @ Lyric Opera of Chicago

4 out of 4 stars

At the tender age 24, Georges Bizet started working miracles. He turned a shoddy libretto with a far-fetched plot (a love triangle between two best friends and a virgin priestess in an exotically sentimental version of Sri Lanka) into ravishing music. Equally ravishing is this not-to-be-missed production of The Pearl Fishers, which can be seen at Lyric Opera through December 10. Fashion and textile icon Zandra Rhodes (set and costume design) creates an unforgettable world of two-dimensional palm trees, temple columns, starry skies and stormy seascapes beautifully patterned in turquoise, pink and orange. It feels like a dream you never want to wake up from. Inside this reverie, the voices of tenor Matthew Polenzani (Nadir), baritone Mariusz Kwiecien (Zurga) and soprano Marina Rebeka (Leila) soar in a series of unforgettable duets and arias. Both Polenzani and Kwiecien boast an explosive stage presence, and they infuse their cursed bromance with a layer of pathos when they sing the opera’s knock-out hit Au fond du temple saint. Their vocal agility and bravado is matched by Andrew Sinclair’s deft direction and John Malashock’s jaw-dropping choreography. Sir Andrew Davis conducts. 

The Pearl Fishers runs at the Lyric Opera of Chicago through December 10th. Tickets are available online at www.lyricopera.org. Additional information can be found at www.theaterinchicago.com.

Héctor Álvarez is a writer, actor and director from Spain based in Chicago. He has studied non-Western theater traditions in China, Japan and Indonesia, and in 2008 received aWatson Fellowship to research community-based performance in Latin America. He has a BA in Theater from Macalester College and an MA in Modern English Literature form University College London. As an actor, he has trained and studied with Georges Bigot, Augusto Boal, Peter Schumann, Malte Lambrecht and Guillermo Heras and has performed in more than 20 productions. He is a member of Theatre Y’s ensemble since 2015.