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The contract was signed in the spring of 1863. Rehearsals were to start in August and the première was to be in September. It was a short time in which to compose a full-length opera and Bizet recycled a great deal of music from earlier works, among them his 1862 opera, La Guzla de l'Emir, which has since been lost.

Charles Castronovo as Nadir (foreground) and Malcolm MacKenzie as Zurga in San Diego Opera's production of 'The Pearl Fishers'. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard
Charles Castronovo as Nadir (foreground) and Malcolm MacKenzie as Zurga in San Diego Opera's production of 'The Pearl Fishers'. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard

The première of Les Pêcheurs de Perles on 30 September 1863 was not overly well received, but Hector Berlioz, writing in the Journal des Débats, said that it contained a considerable number of expressive pieces filled with fire and rich colouring. The London public first saw the Bizet work under the title Leila at Covent Garden in 1887, but it was not seen in the United States until six years later.

José Gallisa as Nourabad and Ekaterina Siurina as Leïla in San Diego Opera's production of 'The Pearl Fishers'. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard
José Gallisa as Nourabad and Ekaterina Siurina as Leïla in San Diego Opera's production of 'The Pearl Fishers'. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard

 

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Copyright © 18 May 2008 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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