“The Pearl Fishers” is a story about the very human conflicts of love, friendship, jealousy, revenge and remorse. The music, acting, dancing and scenery in this Houston Grand Opera performance all come together to make this a truly beautiful piece of art to experience.
This French-language production has multiple songs that express a depth of emotion. The opera-famous friendship duet by Zurga (Alexander Birch Elliott) and Nadir (Lawrence Brownlee) “Au fond du temple saint” is the epitome of brotherly love that both performers convey through the instruments of their voice. Brownlee and Andrea Carroll (as Leïla) give incredible performances as the characters proclaim their love for each other. Elliot nail Zurga’s raging jealousy, revenge and remorse with his acting and singing.
The dancing incorporates ballet and Indian styles. The alluring choreography by Eric Sean Fogel helps establish the location and the beauty of the performance. In particular, the first dance and the priestess’ dance are mesmerizing.
The eye-popping set scenes and costumes are designed by Zandra Rhodes, a British designer known for her edgy style. I thought some of the set designs were beautifully idyllic, but others were moved into the realm of a cartoon world and clash with the otherwise dreamy tropical and oceanic scenery. However, all the colorful costumes designed by Rhodes were remarkably lovely, the flowing watercolor garments help make the show visually stunning.
Composed by Georges Bizet, “The Pearl Fishers” is a story about a love triangle, broken promises and fate. The story is ultimately the struggle of between forbidden love and destiny in a world where unseen cosmological forces rule.
It’s the first time the Houston Grand Opera is bringing this opera to Bayou City. Every part of “The Pearl Fishers,” from the storyline, music, acting, dancing and setting, make this a beautiful opera to experience.
The Houston Grand Opera is performing “The Pearl Fishers” through Feb. 8. Discounted tickets are available opera-goers under 25 as well as first-time attendees. Street parking is free after 6 p.m. and all day Sunday, Theater District garage parking is $12.