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Storms, torment, passion and power, as only opera can deliver

Overheard on opening night:

“Such Joie de vivre! Such passion! Watching The Pearl Fishers made me wonder if I am doing it wrong? Am I living my best life? Do I even know how to love?”

“The artworks as backdrops are absolute genius. They bring the whole show to life; they come to life themselves. I found myself wondering more than once: Is the sea [in the paintings] actually moving?”

“In The Pearl Fishers, we aren’t looking at a stage with traditional sets and props, but rather at a canvas on which we can set the scenes that illuminate onstage personalities and emotions.

Matthew [Wild] has succeeded in elevating the semi-staged concept into a rich and wonderful space to explore.”

Elisabeth Manduell, Director

The Pearl Fishers at Artscape. Photographs in slide show above by Kim Stevens

From 10 to 14 May 2023, Cape Town Opera presents George Bizet’s masterful French opera, The Pearl Fishers, at Artscape with an all-star cast led by Operalia 2017 winner Levy Sekgapane in his debut as Nadir.

The Pearl Fishers also features Cape Town Opera Soloist and celebrated tenor Lukhanyo Moyake alongside recent Fleur du Cap Theatre Award winners Conroy Scott and Brittany Smith, and Reuben Mbonambi (Cape Town Opera’s Judith Neilson Young Artist who came 3rd in the Belvedere Competition last year) along with the the Cape Town Opera chorus directed by Marvin Kernelle. 

The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by maestro Adam Szmidt.

The highly anticipated season, two years after pandemic restrictions prevented the full run of the production, is directed by Elisabeth Manduell with Matthew Wild’s original concept.

The show is brought to life by exquisite imagery by Shakil Solanki. His series of vivid artworks encapsulate the depth of the turmoil between the characters and invite the audience to immerse in a dreamlike world. 

Original set and costume design is by Michael Mitchell and lighting design is by Faheem Bardien. 

Bizet’s three act 1863 opera is a tale of passion, betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness. Originally set in ancient Ceylon, The Pearl Fishers focuses on a tragic love triangle. Two fishermen, Nadir and Zurga, are the closest of friends; they also both love the priestess Leïla. 

Their friendship pact is crowned by one of opera’s most rousing tenor-baritone duets, ‘Au fond du temple saint’; it is also torn apart by their rivalry over Leïla. She is herself conflicted between her feelings and her own sacred vows. Cue storms, torment, passion and power, as only opera can deliver.

Levy Sekgapane has returned to South Africa from a glorious opera career in Europe to play this role. Along with Pretty Yende, Levy is the only South African to have won Plácido Domingo’s prestigious Operalia competition (2017). This year, he has already performed at the Zurich Opera House and further engagements include in Paris, Vienna and Dresden. Go see him on this rare appearance at home!

In fact, go see them all, you will be amazed at the depth of SA’s opera talent! I can only guess that all that singing in church has done wonders …

The Pearl Fishers, proudly supported by The Western Cape Government Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, and the National Arts Council, is sung in French, with surtitles in English and isiXhosa. Booking now open through Computicket or 0214217695. @capetownopera

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