Cyrille Dubois / Julie Fuchs / Alexandre Bloch

Georges Bizet: Les Pêcheurs de Perles

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Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de perles, or The Pearl Fishers, suffered even more than other works from 19th century editorial practices. Neglected during Bizet's life, the opera was revived after his death by producers who freely tampered with it, changed the plot, and added numbers. The autograph apparently exists but has never been revealed by its owner. This performance, very well recorded by Pentatone in Lille in 2017, uses (and debuts) a 2014 re-creation by Hugh MacDonald, based on an 1863 conductor's score, and the results are attractive. It is the Act I duet "Au fond du temple saint" that's known as the Pearl Fishers Duet and is the hit from this opera (thanks largely to Enrico Caruso), and the male soloists here are all that could be desired. But the key to a successful performance of the whole is a certain lightness that brings across the magical qualities of the score. ("Exotic" is the wrong word; although the opera is set in Sri Lanka, among the titular oyster divers, the locale was originally planned as Mexico, and there is little actual encounter with any foreign style.) That lightness is achieved here, perhaps due to the score revisions, but more to the work of the Orchestre National de Lille, conductor Alexandre Bloch, and most of all to the choir Les Cris de Paris, which makes frequent appearances and keeps things briskly moving along. Sample "Sois la bienvenue," which typifies the festive atmosphere of the music with which Bizet transcended the clunky romantic plot he had to work with, centered on a necklace (what is it about the French and necklaces?). Recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Les Pêcheurs de Perles
1 02:11
2 03:47
3 04:02
4 02:08
5 02:26
6 07:27
7 03:50
8 02:12
9 07:25
10 01:19
11 03:45
12 01:56
13 05:40

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Les Pêcheurs de Perles
1 07:27
2 07:07
3 02:12
4 06:46
5 10:12
6 06:23
7 01:13
8 08:02
9 02:02
10 02:08
11 01:22
12 02:59
13 03:18
blue highlight denotes track pick