On New Year’s Eve, Mariusz Kwiecień sang in the premiere of Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) by George Bizet at the Metropolitan Opera. The Polish baritone plays Zurga, the pearl divers’ leader. The new production will be broadcasted in HD in Poland on 16th January.
Described by the Met as a 'gorgeous opera of lust and longing', The Pearl Fishers tells the story of a beautiful young Hindu priestess, Leïla, and the two pearl divers who become her suitors. Employing themes such as love, betrayal and vengeance, Bizet’s opera remains a timeless tale.
In a conversation with the Polish Press Agency, Mariusz Kwiecień stated:
Georges Bizet wrote marvellous monumental music. The choruses are also beautiful. What I find best is Zurga’s duet with Leïla (Diana Damrau, soprano), in which she confesses that she loves another man, Nadir (Matthew Polenzani, tenor). After the priestess’s confession, Zurga sends her to her death.
The singer also praised his fellow performers, dubbing them perfect interpreters of French music. He also commended the modernised adaptation of the 19th-century opera, which has the setting changed from ancient Ceylon to an unspecified location in the contemporary Far East. Kwiecień acknowledges that his approval of the modernised staging of old operas is quite uncommon. He considers the modernisation, however, a necessary and creative means of competing with other media and arts:
We can compete by using video, modern means of expression, lightning, fantastic ballet dancing. The first scene takes place at the bottom of the sea, under huge waves of moving silk canvases. Thanks to their smooth movements, the dancers create the illusion of swimming. It results in a great visual beauty.
Enthusiastic about challenging and unconventional projects. Kwiecień is very popular across the world. He will star as Zurga until 4th February. His next projects include Dionizetti’s Roberto Devereux and Rossini’s William Tell, both at the Metropolitan Opera. This year, he will also play Don Carlos in a San Franciscan adaption of Verdi’s opera. In 2016, he will return to his native Kraków to star in King Roger by Karol Szymanowski.
The opera will be live screened in Poland on 16th January in selected venues, including Kino Praha and Teatr Studio in Warsaw, CK Zamek in Poznań and Łódź Philharmonic.
Sources: PAP, translated by OK, 4 Jan 2016