Worried the pearls of the opera repertoire are out of your price range? Since its inception in 2015, Opera Queensland’s special ticket initiative has allowed thousands of Queenslanders to see their first opera for less than the price of a beer and a pizza. This year, the company has released 2,500 $25 tickets to Bizet’s The Pearlfishers.

Opera Queensland, Michael Gow's PearlfishersWith José Carbo in OA’s The Pearlfishers. Photo by Jeff Busby

“We want to encourage as many people as possible to share the emotion of seeing a real opera for the first time,” said OperaQ Artistic Director Lindy Hume, “of hearing the power of the voices and seeing this amazing 400 year old art form up close.”

What’s more, ticket holders will automatically be entered into the draw to win a pair of Australian South Sea keshi pearl earrings from Paspaley valued at $1,580.

Despite its famous duet, Bizet’s Pearlfishers has often been overlooked in favour of the composer’s more popular opéra comique Carmen, but has been seen more frequently on opera stages around the world in recent years – and it has enjoyed something of a cult-following in Australia. “It’s kind of an iconic favourite of Australian audiences,” Hume told Limelight last year, “they love the duet [Au fond du temple saint]. It’s a really popular piece of repertoire that hasn’t been seen in Brisbane for too long.”

While the opera has been enjoying a revival around the world, with successes at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and English National Opera in 2016, this will be the first time it has played in Queensland in 15 years. OperaQ will be bringing Michael Gow’s production of the opera to Brisbane, which Opera Australia premiered last January in Sydney before it moved to Melbourne.

The production stars Australian soprano Emma Matthews, Limelight’s 2016 Australian Artist of the Year and an experienced Léïla. Tenor Aldo Di Toro and baritone Grant Doyle are Nadir and Zurga, the two fishermen fighting for her affections, while bass Andrew Collis is Nourabad.

For Hume, though, hearing Matthews sing Léïla is the real pearl. “I saw her do it in Melbourne,” she explains, “Emma’s a very charismatic singing actor – she always has this beautiful lustre about her performances and a sincerity and a real heart-stirring quality. She has a very special star quality.”

Opera Queensland’s The Pearlfishers is at QPAC May 25 – June 3. $25 tickets are available now.


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