Monday, July 2, 2012

First Santa Fe performance of The Pearl Fishers

Event: June 30, 2012
Updated: July 3, 2012

A Night at the 2012 Santa Fe Opera 
Administration and Sponsors

Leila, the woman both fishermen loved

On a classic, balmy New Mexican summer evening, Birgitta and I attended Georges Bizet's opera The Pearl Fishers with dear friends and long time opera lovers from Los Alamos. I was looking forward to hearing again what for me is the most beautiful male duet ever composed, when Zurga and his long time friend Nadir sing of their fraternal devotion to each other. Singers Christopher Magiera and Eric Cutler succeeded in giving me goose bumps, something I feared would not happen after having heard so many times the classic recording by Swedish tenor Jussi Björling and American baritone Robert Merrill. It also brought to mind the time I sang this duet at least ten years ago with Canadian friend Mac Freeman for his friends in Santa Fe, after spending a year learning to sing our parts. I took the role of Zurga and Birgitta helped me learn the music and sing it in French.

Here is a slightly edited account by wife Birgitta [a former professional opera singer] to one of her best friends:
Last Saturday night Z [that's me!] and I went to the Santa Fe Opera with [friends] and saw a magnificent performance of The Pearl Fishers by Bizet in the famous and very modern Santa Fe Opera House situated in the hills a little north of the city. People come from all over the US and from abroad to see the high quality performances here. The audience sits under a roof, and you have a glorious view of the valley and mountains and the sky because there are no walls on the sides or behind the stage. Without amplification the acoustics are fantastic. I have heard wonderful recorded performances of this opera many times but experiencing a live performance was so different. Saturday's performance was magnificent. The voices were so glorious, the choir and orchestra were superb. Where we sat, far back and high up, it was so hot. The women mostly wore bare-shouldered and sleeveless and the men wore short-sleeved shirts, but a delightful breeze was blowing all the time making it very pleasant. As far as the story goes, it is a passionate and unreal love story, and about loyal friendship between two men who love the same girl, betrayal,  all very exaggerated. It all comes out well with the girl and her lover uniting, forgiveness and reconciliation in the end.

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