It turned out to be a mood-changing experience last night as the art of opera injected Melbourne’s season of outdoor COVID-safe live performance with its intoxicating grip at the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Georges Bizet’s  The Pearl Fishers ( Les pêcheurs de perles), I must say, doesn’t usually come to mind when I consider my favourites in the repertoire. That said, taking away the trimmings of sets and costumes, which often portray its ancient Ceylonese exoticism awkwardly, means the rich and wondrous score is highlighted. And Victorian Opera showcased it at its best with wave upon wave of deeply satisfying music and a superlative local cast.

Kathryn Radcliffe and Stephen Marsh in Victorian Opera's The Pearl Fishers Kathryn Radcliffe and Stephen Marsh in Victorian Opera’s The Pearl Fishers. Photo © Charlie Kinross

Under The Bowl’s stretched steel shell, in cool but comfortable, windless conditions, the music resonated with a combination of warmth, sensitivity and vigour as Artistic Director Richard Mills led Orchestra Victoria’s more than 50 musicians on stage. The playing was faultless, the music perfectly balanced and the tempi ever...