Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers confirms the composer’s deftness in penning a good tune and spinning a faux-Oriental orchestral fabric. But, opera is more than simply a catchy melody or two, and if it wasn’t for the tenor-baritone friendship duet ‘Au Fond du Temple Saint’, the opera’s one-dimensional characters and dramatic stiltedness would probably see it consigned to the drawer marked ‘lesser-known, justly neglected’.
Drawing on the dark viciousness and bitter malevolence of Prosper MÈrimÈe’s ethnographical novella, Calixto Bieito’s Carmen rejects any notion of flamboyant exoticism and alluring eroticism, and presents us instead with a sordid twilight zone of sexual violence and brutal malice.
Bizet’s Les PÍcheurs de Perles is notoriously hard to stage. Because the plot’s so grandiose, the imagination works overtime, dwarfing the music, making it seem puny in comparison. There’s a lot to be said in favour of concert performances because they shift the balance back to Bizet.
Everyone knows the tunes from Bizet’s Carmen even if they don’t know it’s an opera. Now the Royal Opera House, London, is making the world’s best known opera into the world’s first 3D opera film.
Aris Argiris makes his debut at Covent Garden as Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen. But this is unusually high-profile because it’s a first, being filmed in 3D.