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Fishing for pearls (Hall of fame #90)

Maybe I'm a sucker for punishment but this is the second opera on the top 100 list and again I decided to watch the whole thing on YouTube instead of just listening to the highlights. This time it's Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers). Being composed 70 years after Mozart's lower-ranked Cosí fan Tutte, I naively thought the whole opera genre might have developed into a more exhilarating format. Was I ever wrong.

Classic FM says Bizet's three-act opera lasts around 80 minutes. Well, for a start, the version I found with English subtitles was more like 120. The fairly sparse plot moves so sluggishly that the only hope of actually being entertained lies in the music. Sadly. Operatic music surely had more entertainment value in a world without recordings, movies and video games. Perhaps it was the most thrilling expression of human emotions possible? But to my ears all those passionately cursive strung-out melodies roll into nebulous heaps of affectation.

This is in no way a criticism of the performers, who are all outstanding (check out the run and top note at 54:16). I also thought the use of the set and choreography in this particular show were excellent. I'm just not into opera. Yet. Maybe a scoundrel like Verdi could redeem the art form for me?

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