From vivid Sri Lanka to Mythical 19th Century Ceylan thanks to the MET and Bizet!
What a strange coincidence that days following my return from Sri Lanka and my incredible encounter with this glorious country I should be attending the live MET production of this marvelous Opera by Bizet at my local movie theater in Geneva (ah, c’est beau la technique!!!!).
Bizet had never moved from Paris and his imagination made reference to Hindu worshipers on this majoritarian Buddhist island…Frankly, that’s a bit daring when we think of how hard it has been to bring back some appeasement between the Tamils and Singalese recently….
And Leila, Nadir, Nourabad and Zurga certainly sound more Muslim than either of the dominant groups….What a cosmopolitan mix in this absolutely breathtaking opera when Diana Damrau is the pear in a stage production which is simply perfect!
As for the story, two old friends who fell in love with a veiled woman at a Candi Temple have vowed never to see her again in order to preserve their friendship….But voilà, Love is the ruler and Nadir followed Leila and the couple developed a relationship we are not really aware of on stage.
Indeed, after a fabulous staging of pearl divers
the opera starts when Zurga, a fabulous Mariusz Kwiecien (who sent his love to his live audience in Krakow and in Polish s’il vous plaît….) is elected King of his village. Nadir, his best friend arrives moments later and seems oppressed by his guilt for not have disclosed the truth about the fact he actually broke their vows.
They both welcome Leila, aka Diana Damrau in a hindu version of a vestale who is meant to pray for the safety of all pearl divers and fishermen…as long as she remains veiled and untouched! Nourabad is her bodyguard and is interpreted by Damrau’s husband and barytone Nicolas Testé.
Everything is perfect in this production, from the warm and crystalline voice of Soprano Diana Damrau and her suitors or protector, the choirs, the stage setting, Bizet’s catching tunes….I encourage my NY friends to attend this warmly recommended piece and all my readers to check the various links if, like me, they’ve been puzzled by this rather captivating piece.