Les Pêcheurs de Perles



Libretto by Eugène CORMON and Michel CARRÉ


  • Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège
  • Opéra Comique
  • Opéra National de Bordeaux

Last performance at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège : April 2015

The story

On a beach in Sri Lanka, a love rivalry threatens to jeopardise the oath of friendship between Zurga and Nadir, who both love the same woman, the priestess Leila. Wearing a veil and tasked with watching over the pearl fishers, she is accompanied by the high priest of Brahma. Nadir recognises her enchanting singing and declares his love for her, igniting his rival’s anger.


At the age of twenty-four years old, Georges Bizet was no longer a debutant in the lyrical arts. He had several works to his credit destined for musical theatre, which was a domain he was genuinely attracted to. Consequently, when he received the libretto for Les Pêcheurs de Perles in June 1863 from Léon Carvalho, the former Director of the Théâtre-Lyrique, he seized the opportunity immediately and composed his score in less than two months.

It was from Gounod that the author of Carmen learned the transparency and unique colour of the French vocal style. Les Pêcheurs de Perles is a comic opera that was a precursor to verismo and a work of exotic sensuality that is typical of 19th century idealised orientalism.

Add to that the formidable purity of tone that the young priestess must deploy in the unforgettable “Here I am alone in the night”, the exceptional vocal qualities of Nadir, such a delicate operatic tenor in the famous romance “I hear as in a dream”, the suppleness of Zurga’s authoritative and songful baritone, and the result is a sublimely charming trio that is deeply moving.

Introduction to performances: curtain-raisers

All the opera performances are preceded by an educational introduction open to all. They take place 30 minutes before the start of the performance, in the company of an opera specialist to provide a pertinent presentation of the work.