Les Pêcheurs de Perles shimmers at Holland Park
The Opera Holland Park production of Les Pêcheurs de Perles, conducted by Matthew Waldren and directed by Oliver Platt, was a perfectly polite way to enjoy a summer evening, thanks to the brilliantly spacious and airy venue and, of course, the music.
Bizet’s shimmering orientalist score, written in 1863 some years before he composed Carmen, sets the scene in Ceylon where a community of pearl-divers is thrown into turmoil by the arrival of Leila, a beautiful singer whose role is to propitiate the gods while the fishers go about their dangerous business. The plot is, like most of Bizet’s work, very basic, as was the set that saw very few changes and was entirely unconvincing as a harbour. But, the electrifying intensity of Jung Soo Yun as Nadir was gripping enough, as was the breathtaking City of London Sinfonia who enchanted a visibly entertained audience.
Unfortunately the dancing was surprisingly amateurish, and the acting by most of the chorus was a little forced, but these are not reasons to miss what is a truly wonderful opera of jealousy, love and danger. In addition to Jung Soo Yun, the performance by Soula Parassidis as the mysterious and alluring Leila was beautifully passionate, and technically very accomplished.
Les Pêcheurs de Perles is not a tear-jerker, and is ultimately unconvincing as a piece of theatre, but was relaxing and enjoyable nonetheless. Overall, dramatically weak but with consistent and truly stunning music.
Les Pêcheurs de Perles is at Opera Holland Park until 13th July 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.