The Pearl Fishers Duality

Here is a treat for all you classical aficionados, a sing off between four of the greatest voices of our time. Above we have a fairly modern  duo, Andrea Bocelli and Bryn Terfel and below the older, more mature, paring of Placido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes, enjoy – Deskarati

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2 Responses to The Pearl Fishers Duality

  1. alfy says:

    I have always enjoyed this marvellous duet by Bizet. In the two clips my vote goes to Domingo and Milnes. The translations of the French were an excellent idea. However, I thought that the other clip was much more interesting visually, and it was good to see some of the instruments which go to make this piece. The harp and clarinet solos were memorable as well as the trumpet fanfare.

    I now want to share a secret with you. Why is it that the only aria one ever hears from “The Pearl Fishers” is this one, “Au fond du temple sacre”. Well the truth is, much though I love Bizet’s other music, the rest of “The Pearl Fishers” is ballsachingly dull. It is the operatic equivalent of “Copenhagen”. The plot is absurd, and the characters behave in daft and inexplicable ways. I sat through a very good production about three or four years ago, wondering all the time why none of the rest of it came up to the superb standard of that one aria.

    Here is another puzzle for deskarati readers. Bizet wrote some incidental music for a play; that is the music appeared between scenes, unlike in an opera or musical when it occurs as part of the action. The play was based on a novel by Alphonse Daudet, and the whole is imbued with the hot sunlight of Provence, in the south of France.

    The incidental music is enormously popular with the public and has been recorded many times. However, the play, which has a perfectly sensible plot and believable characters is very rarely heard, and it has never been turned into an opera, even though it would fit comfortably into the late 19C Italian “verismo” school. I heard the play, with Bizet’s music on the radio many years ago. It was an excellent production but as far as I know has never been repeated.

    The title of the play, and incidental music? “L’Arlesienne”, (The Girl from Arles) known to professional musicians as “the lazy hen”. It is set in a big Provencal farmhouse, and tells the story of the eldest son and his unrequited love for the girl in the nearby town of Arles. His younger brother is mentally retarded but to the joy of his family he begins to “waken up”. There are other minor sub-plots of dramatic interest, and the whole play ends in tragedy.

  2. Deskarati says:

    Although Sherrill Milnes is a Deskarati favourite (we saw a remarkable recording of him in a 1988 Il Travatore, from the MET) we have to give this one to the youngsters.

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