Dancing Shines in The Pearl Fishers

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(c) Eric Mull

Zurga (Michael Todd Simpson) confronts Leila (Caitlin Lynch) in the Opera Cleveland production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.

Passion drives everyone a bit mad in this Bizet opera. The Pearl Fishers suffers from a weak storyline (even for opera, it’s lame). But who cares? This Opera Cleveland and GroundWorks Dance Theatre production of “The Pearl Fishers” delights in Bizet’s melodious score and the opportunities it offers for great dance numbers. Hints of Bizet’s masterwork, Carmen (which came a dozen years after), lurk throughout but Kay Walker-Castaldo, stage director; Dean Williamson, music director, and David Shimoktakahara, GroundWorks DanceTheater director, reveal the luster  inherent in this earlier work.

The plot turns on what is billed as a love triangle between the enchanting Leila (vocally voluptuous soprano Caitlin Lynch), Nadir (stalwart tenor Robert McPherson) and Zurga (compelling and sexy baritone Michael Todd Simpson [a must-see on “barihunks” opera blog]). Nadir and Zurga share a “Nip/Tuck” relationship, expressed right off the bat (First Act) in “Au fond du temple saint,” the justly famous duet, where they swear no woman can come between them again. The rest of the opera shows how wrong and how right they are.
[Posted in Cool Cleveland, September 29, 2010]