The Pearl Fishers is the latest presentation brought to the White Rock, Hastings, by Opera South East.
Not the not the most popular of George Bizet’s works and considered by some to be a bit of an Operatic pot-boiler.
Director Jenny Miller, managed to conjure a strikingly rich and vivid version of this tale of forbidden love and the overturning of outmoded spiritual values. Over two nights last week, the stage of the theatre was transformed into an ancient Celyonian fishing community and a deadly love triangle was played out.
The Dualities of the story – fellowship versus rivalry, love versus religion – were echoed in the production design where the large circular opening that dominated the set shifted from one state to another.
At times, thanks to imaginative lighting, this became a vivid sunset, bleeding colour onto the horizon, while at others it was a portal to the temple and the spiritual mysteries of the Island religion. This duality was further reflected in the use of shadowplay with hand held totems and other props being passed behind screens to become traditional storytelling devices, adding an almost metafictional aspect to proceedings, the production commenting on itself.
Opera South East regulars Peter Grevatt and Ian Parret as protagonists Zurga and Nadir were as impeccable as ever while charismatic soprano Luci Briginshaw was stunning as Leila, particularly on the gorgeous aria Me Voila Seule Dans La Nuit, where she was supported with great sensitivity and drama by Kenneth Roberts conducting the Sussex Concert Orchestra.
A famously linear and under developed storyline has been given fresh appeal then, by an imaginative and enthusiastic production. Opera South East return in the Autumn with Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.