Live Opera At Its Best On The Big Screen

The Metropolitan Opera’s Sensational Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers)

You cannot miss the live performance of the Metropolitan Opera’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) at Cinema Nouveau. This is opera at its absolute best. The sensational staging, with breathtaking visual splendor and commanding performances brings Georges Bizet’s gorgeous opera of lust and longing  set in the Far East to life at its most riveting.

The matinee performance on 16 January was filmed at the Met Opera and will enjoy four more exclusive screenings at Cinema Nouveau on February 9 and 17 at 11.30 and on February 16 and 18 at 5pm.

Mariusz Kwiecień (Polish: [ˈmar-juʂ ˈkvjɛ-tɕɛɲ], born 4 November 1972) is a Polish operatic baritone who has sung leading roles in the major opera houses of Europe and North America. He has received particular distinction in the title role of Mozart’s Don Giovanni which he has sung at the Vienna State Opera, Bilbao Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Warsaw Opera, Royal Opera House, London, and Seattle Opera where he won the company’s 2006-2007 Artist of the Year award for this role, and the Metropolitan Opera. A former student of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, he made his Met debut in 1999 as Kuligin in Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová.

The Met Live in HD gives opera lovers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of watching grand opera at its best in the comfort of a cinema.

Last performed at The Met in 1916, The Pearl Fishers is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, who brings his romantic flair to the lush score, and directed by Penny Woolcock, who magnificently explores the timeless themes of pure love, betrayal, and vengeance in a production that vividly creates an undersea world on the stage of the Met.

It’s not often that you watch pearl divers plunge to the bottom of the sea at the opening of an opera.

Woolcock’s staging of Les Pêcheurs de Perles is a co-production with English National Opera, where it premiered in 2010 and features set design by Dick Bird in his Met debut, costume design by Kevin Pollard, lighting design by Jen Schriever, projection design by 59 Productions, and movement direction by Andrew Dawson.

Yes, they do, and the secret behind this spectacular visual imagery is revealed during the intermission break, when spirited host Patricia Racette conducts live interviews with cast and crew members as well as the production teams.

Pearlfishers

Matthew Polenzani (born 1968) is an American lyric tenor. He has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Royal Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Vienna State Opera, and San Francisco Opera, among others. He has also sung with numerous symphony orchestras. Born in Evanston, Illinois, Polenzani earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University in 1991, and a master’s from the Yale School of Music where he studied with Richard Cross and Doris Yarick-Cross (chair of Yale’s opera department) in 1994. After graduating from Yale, he began studying with Margaret Harshaw. He then went on to be a member of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, now the Ryan Opera Center, with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. After Ms. Harshaw’s death in 1997, he began studying with his current teacher, Laura Brooks Rice, another student of Ms. Harshaw, in 1998, with whom he continues to study today.

This new production of Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers), a rarity by the composer of the popular opera Carmen that has not been seen at the Met in nearly a century, tells the story of a beautiful Hindu priestess pursued by rival pearl divers competing for her hand.

Highlights of the score include “Au fond du temple saint”, perhaps the best-known duet for two male voices – Nadir and Zurga – performed with unforgettable passion and sensual vigour by Matthew Polenzani as Nadir, Mariusz Kwiecien as Zurga, with Polenzani delivering his haunting aria of remembrance with wonderful lyrical tenderness, and Diana Damrau bringing brilliant coloratura agility, radiant sound and charisma galore to the role of Leila.

Diana Damrau

Diana Damrau (born 31 May 1971) is a German soprano opera singer. She is a Kammersängerin of the Bavarian State Opera. Damrau was born in 1971 in Günzburg, Bavaria, Germany, and began her operatic studies with Carmen Hanganu (de) at the Hochschule für Musik Würzburg. During her studies, she developed an edema on a vocal fold. After consulting with several doctors, she decided to undergo an alternative therapy without surgery. The treatment lasted about one and a half years. After graduating from music conservatory she worked in Salzburg with Hanna Ludwig (de).

During the mid-1800s, it was difficult for new composers and new works to be seen at the two major opera houses in Paris, the Paris Opera and the Opéra-Comique.

Although Georges Bizet was not well-known at the time, he won the prestigious Prix de Rome at age 25 and was commissioned to write Les Pêcheurs de Perles. The opera was staged at the Théâtre Lyrique, which was eventually known for the premieres of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and Faust, Wagner’s Rienzi, and Berlioz’s Les Troyens à Carthage.

Les Pêcheurs de Perles had its first Met performance in 1896, when only the first two of the opera’s three acts were performed as part of a matinee showcasing the talents of the French soprano Emma Calvé. The opera was performed in its entirety on opening night of the 1916-17 Met season, with Frieda Hempel as Leïla and Enrico Caruso as Nadir.

For booking information on The Met: Live in HD season, visit www.cinemanouveau.co.za or www.sterkinekor.com. Download the Ster-Kinekor App on any Nokia, Samsung Android, iPhone or Blackberry smart phone for updates, news and to make bookings. Follow us on Twitter @nouveaubuzz and on Facebook at Cinema Nouveau. For information, call Ticketline on 0861-Movies (668 437).

The Met: Live in HD 2015-16 Schedule

TURANDOT – Puccini  (screened from 20 February 2016)

Nina Stemme stars in the title role of the proud princess of ancient China, whose riddles doom every suitor who seeks her hand. Tenor Marco Berti is Calàf, the brave prince who sings “Nessun dorma” and wins her love. Franco Zeffirelli’s golden production is conducted by Paolo Carignani. (Approximate running time:  3hrs, 35mins)

 MANON LESCAUT – Puccini  (screened from 26 March 2016)

The Met stage ignites when soprano Kristine Opolais and tenor Jonas Kaufmann join forces in Puccini’s obsessive love story. Opolais sings the title role of the country girl who transforms herself into a Parisian temptress, while Kaufmann is the dashing student who desperately woos her. Director Richard Eyre places the action in occupied France in a film noir setting. ‘Desperate passion’ is the phrase Puccini himself used to describe the opera that confirmed his position as the pre-eminent Italian opera composer of his day. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads the stirring score. (Approximate running time:  3hrs, 35mins)

 MADAMA BUTTERFLY – Puccini  (screened from 23 April 2016)

Anthony Minghella’s breathtaking production has thrilled audiences ever since its premiere in 2006. One of the world’s foremost Butterflies, sopranos Kristine Opolais stars in the title role. Tenor Roberto Alagna sings Pinkerton, the naval officer who breaks Butterfly’s heart. Karel Mark Chichon conducts. (Approximate running time:  3hrs, 40mins)

 ROBERTO DEVEREUX – Donizetti  (screened from 07 May 2016)

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky takes on the extraordinary challenge of singing all three of Donizetti’s Tudor queens in the course of a single season, a rare feat made famous by Beverly Sills—and not attempted on a New York stage since. In this climactic opera of the trilogy, she plays Queen Elizabeth I, forced to sign the death warrant of the nobleman she loves, Roberto Devereux. Tenor Matthew Polenzani is Devereux, and mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien complete the principal quartet in the bel canto masterpiece, conducted by Donizetti specialist Maurizio Benini. As with the earlier Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda, the production is by Sir David McVicar, who with this staging completes an enormously ambitious directorial accomplishment. (Approximate running time:  3hrs, 30mins)

ELEKTRA – R. Strauss  (screened from 28 May 2016)

Director Patrice Chéreau (From the House of the Dead) didn’t live to see his great Elektra production, previously presented in Aix and Milan, make it to the stage of the Met. But his overpowering vision lives on with soprano Nina Stemme—unmatched today in the heroic female roles of Strauss and Wagner—who portrays Elektra’s primal quest for vengeance for the murder of her father, Agamemnon. Legendary mezzo-soprano Waltraud Meier is chilling as Elektra’s fearsome mother, Klytämnestra. Soprano Adrianne Pieczonka and bass-baritone Eric Owens are Elektra’s troubled siblings. Chéreau’s musical collaborator Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Strauss’s mighty take on Greek myth. (Approximate running time:  2hrs, 10mins)

For booking information on The Met: Live in HD season, visit www.cinemanouveau.co.za or www.sterkinekor.com.