Les Pêcheurs de perles

Les Pêcheurs de perles

Opera by Georges Bizet

Information Performance on Sunday, December 26, 2021 at 8:00 pm

Les Pêcheurs de perles without orchestra and played on the piano fort
Dear audience,
For safety reasons related to COVID, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande has determined that the risk of being present in the orchestra pit is too great, and has therefore decided not to perform Les Pêcheurs de perles on Sunday, December 26, 2021 at 8:00 pm. Therefore, the orchestral part will be played on the piano forte. On stage, the production remains unchanged.
We apologize for this situation which is beyond our control.
If you have tickets and do not wish to attend the performance, you have the following options:

  • If you wish to have the full amount of your cancelled tickets credited to your Grand Théâtre de Genève account, please email [email protected].
  • You can also ask for the refund of this amount on your bank account. To do so, please send us your complete postal address and your IBAN by email to [email protected].


Ces senteurs douteuses, ces vents tournants annonciateurs d’une agitation plus profonde, un incident futile m’en a fourni le premier indice et reste dans ma mémoire comme un présage.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, Chapiter IV : The Quest for Power

Infos & Cast


Health and Safety Regulations

Infos & Cast

Opera by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon
First performed in Paris in 1863
Last performed at the Grand Théâtre de Genève in 1950

Production of the Theater an der Wien

10, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26 December 2021 – 20h
12 December 2021 – 3pm

Sung in french with french and english subtitles
Duration: approx. 2h30 with one intermission

Musical Director David Reiland
Stage Director Lotte de Beer
Scenography Marousha Levy
Costumes Jorine van Beek
Lighting Designer Alex Brok
Video Finn Ross
Choir director Alan Woodbridge

Leïla Kristina Mkhitaryan
Nadir Frédéric Antoun
Zurga Audun Iversen
Nourabad Michael Mofidian

Grand Théâtre de Genève Chorus
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

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During the New Imperialism period in the second half of the 19th century, far-off locations and ostensibly foreign musical elements were all the rage on the opera stage. In 1863, the 25-year old Georges Bizet was commissioned by the director of the Theatre-Lyrique in Paris to compose a work of this kind: his first major opera project after his Prix de Rome student bursary. He did not, however, get to choose his subject or libretto. The veteran librettists Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré had previously written Les pêcheurs de Catane for Aimé Maillart in 1860. They kept its three-way love story as a plot for young Bizet, but moved it from unexotic Sicily, first to Mexico, and then to even more exotic Ceylon, packing it with pagan rituals and attractive “natives” – all European singers in “brownface” – expressing the typical florid emotions of a Romantic European melodrama. On the beach, the pearl fishers await the consecrated virgin, who is to calm the sea with her prayers so that the fishers can go about their work in safety. Zurga, their new leader, and his friend, the hunter Nadir, once fell in love with the same girl, but swore not to pursue her for the sake of their friendship. But Nadir has secretly broken the oath and approached her. When the veiled virgin appears, Nadir immediately recognizes her as Leila, the girl he loves. Presenting works nowadays that might have seemed picturesque in the era of colonial empires but are in more than one way unacceptable to ours is no easy task. Bizet’s music does however give The Pearl Fishers’ one-dimensional characters considerable emotional relevance, and so the work is certainly worth another dive in search of its iridescent treasures. At least that is the opinion of the Dutch director Lotte de Beer who directed this production for the Theater an der Wien in Vienna in 2014. She plays with deconstruction to give new dramatic impulse to the opera’s farfetched coincidences and kitschy exoticism. Just as the exotic Ceylon of the 19th century becomes Sri Lanka in the 21st century, a paradise for tropical holidays and wellness breaks, de Beer – a rising star on the opera horizon – is look-ing for a contemporary and entertaining counterpart to the trend of situating stories in remote regions and cultures. She finds it in reality TV contests where European contestants are challenged to isolate on an exotic island without knowing what to expect. From Ibsen’s theatre she derives the concept of “vital lie”, to describe the implausible twists and turns in the story of Leila, Nadir and Zurga, as credible as the pre-programmed twists and turns of I’m a Celebrity… or Love Island. The young Belgian conductor David Reiland, a big fan of the music of the French Second Empire, will lead the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and a trio of soloists that will also feature Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan (Les Indes galantes, GTG 19/20) along with Canadian tenor Frédéric Antoun, known for his skill in the most demanding roles of the French repertoire, and booming Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen.

Health and Safety Regulations

For your comfort and well-being, we will welcome visitors in accordance with the current health and safety regulations. Following the regulations of the authorities, from Monday, December 20, 2021, according to the “2G” rule, only people with a COVID Certificate related to a vaccination or a recovery will have access to the venue. The certificate will be requested with your ID card on entering the building and masks are mandatory.

Doors open 1 hour before the performance. We recommend that you come early to avoid queues when entering the building.

> more infos



Les Pêcheurs at La Plage

Check out all the various events connected with the production.

45 minutes before the performance

45 minutes before the bells call you into the house, it’s time to refresh your memory and go back to the beginnings of the opera: we offer a brief introduction to remind you what the work is all about and what kind of magical, apocalyptic, critical or hyper-realistic worlds the people behind the production have in store for you. Lickety-split, there’s just enough time to grab some bubbly before you take your seats under the star-studded ceiling of a thousand and one operas!
45 minutes before each performance
Free admittance with performance tickets
In the main foyer of the GTG

Exceptionally, the Intropéra of December 15, 2021 will not take place.

Late Night #1
Saturday, 27 November at 10PM

With performances by Maya Rochat, Julie Semoroz, Emma Souharce, Baby Volcano, DESIR et Mara
For this first Late Night of the season, the Grand Théâtre joins forces with the festival Les Créatives to deliver an offbeat and surprising stage and musical program. A 100% women’s night for 100% discovery and colorful fun!
Maya Rochat, a brilliant Swiss artist, will turn the Grand Théâtre into a sensory experience with her colorful installations. Music artists Julie Semoroz and Emma Souharce will present their current live set with some new inserts for the occasion. The two artists have been collaborating since 2018 with the duo Effraction Vacances, a live improvised performance format based on 1990/2000 pop music – different each time – that is presented as a decomposed sculpture.For this new form, Semoroz and Souharce focus on the possibilities of interweaving different moments in live performance, playing with wide dynamic ranges inspired by both Instagram culture and drone music.
In parallel, Baby Volcano will embark us in a live performance between sweetness, heat and rage. To top it all off, two dj sets will keep us dancing until the end of the night. First, the singer / dj Mara will steal our heart during a dancehall performance. Final bouquet, godsilah of the DESIR collective will ignite the dancefloor.
In collaboration with Les Créatives
Saturday, 27 November, 2021
From 10:30pm to 2am
Doors open at 10pm
Entrance CHF 25.00
At the GTG

Thursday, 2 December from 6:30PM

Take a trip to discover the traditional and surprising repertoire of South India and Sri Lanka in company of musicians with magical and exotic instruments.
Paul Grant, sitar
Sébastien La Croix, dilruba
Santosh Kurbet, tabla
Apéropéra is a relaxed, fresh and unstuffy way to (re)discover a composer, a work, a topic, miles away from the usual lectures you get before the performance.
Thursday, December 2, 2021
From 6:30PM
Entry CHF 25.– (first drink included)
In the Foyer of the GTG

Public Workshop
Saturday, 4 December at 11AM

The mezzo-soprano Leana Durney, in collaboration with Fabrice Farina, is pleased to welcome you as a candidate in an interactive theatrical and musical game about the Pearl Fishers.Under the banner of the Nadir, Zurga or Leila team, both your brains and your facetiousness will be brought to the adventure.
For all audiences. Children are welcome from 10 years old, accompanied by an adult who participates in the workshop
Saturday, December 4
At 11AM
Entry CHF 15.–
CHF 10.– (up to 12 years old)
Bar de l’Amphithéâtre du GTG

Tuesday, 7 December at 6:30PM

Au-delà du cliché : Les Pêcheurs de perles, a conference presented by Charlotte Ginot-Slacik
L’exotisme fit son succès. Il interroge aujourd’hui. Comment écouter et comprendre Les Pêcheurs de perles de Bizet ?
Que reste-t-il de cette Ceylan fantasmée où Nadir, Leïla et Zurga s’aiment et se déchirent ?
D’un Orient fantasmé au XIXe siècle à la vision radicalement contemporaine proposée par Lotte de Beer, Charlotte Ginot-Slacik interroge les représentations de l’ « autre » et leur incarnation musicale.

En coulisse
Tuesday 21 December

Haven’t you ever wondered what it’s like on the other side, when the curtain falls on a performance? How does all the technical machinery work? What do the stagehands have to do to get things back into working order? Or maybe just bump into one of the stars of the show?
So let us raise the curtain on all this for you. With every production, we give our patrons an opportunity to come backstage with us, raise their eyes to the flies and take a good look at what’s behind the sets. It may be dark in the wings but there’s a whole lot going on there! And because it’s a really busy place, we can’t really do this more than once per performance run. You will need to book your visit beforehand, so don’t delay!
A member of the theatre staff who can answer all your questions and show you some of the very impressive features of our opera house takes you backstage for free.
After the December 21 performance, A member of the theatre staff who can answer all your questions and show you some of the very impressive features of our opera house takes you backstage for free.
The “En coulisse” tour lasts about 20 minutes, starts 15 minutes after the performance, is free of charge on prior reservation with our box office service by email [email protected].

On se renseigne

Les Pêcheurs de perles

2021-2022 Season

Find the complete program of the new season.
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In response to the season header “Make Love, …”, Pauline Julier produced Titanic, a searing vision of a sinking world where the show does go on.
Make love…
Presentation, interview of artists, explanations… all you need to know and understand about the new GTG program.

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Crédit photos Les Pêcheurs de perles
© GTG / Magali Dougados