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Dayton Opera Presents Georges Bizet’s Exotic and Intriguing The Pearl Fishers

All Nineteen Dancers from Dayton Ballet Join Dayton Opera on Stage, with Dayton Philharmonic Providing the Lush, Melodic Score

Communications & Media Manager

Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
Phone 937-224-3521 x 1138

DAYTON, OH (March 24, 2015) – On Friday, April 17 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 19 at 3:00 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, the Dayton Opera, under the artistic direction of Thomas Bankston, will present The Pearl Fishers, in French with English surtitles. This performance marks the final Signature Event of the DPAA's 2014–2015 New Horizons season, when all three art forms of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance—Dayton Ballet, Dayton Philharmonic, and Dayton Opera—combine their talents for an artistic celebration second to none.

Support for this production is provided by Signature Sponsor Miriam Rosenthal Foundation for the Arts; Principal Sponsors ELM Foundation, Opera Guild of Dayton, The Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation, and The Harry A. Toulmin, Jr. and Virginia B.Toulmin Fund of The Dayton Foundation; and Leadership Sponsors Emerson Climate Technologies, Gosiger, Inc., and Dr. and Mrs. Edward N. Hughes/First Dayton CyberKnife.  Additional support for this production is available thanks to Supporting Sponsors 10 Wilmington Place and One Lincoln Park.  DPAA’s Innovation Partner is the DP&L Foundation: Powering Innovation in the Performing Arts.
The life of French composer Georges Bizet reveals a central irony. Raised by musical parents, Bizet had outstanding musical talent of his own, which became evident from the tender age of nine. A composer of immense ability, he possessed a special attraction to and talent for the theatrical stage. In his all-too-short 37 years, he produced a tremendous amount of significant work, including the operas Carmen and The Pearl Fishers.

Yet, brilliant as his works are, none achieved real success in his lifetime. Today we know and appreciate his individual genius and special touch. The Pearl Fishers was conceived after the youthful composer returned from a joyful trip to Italy. He came back brimming with inspiration. As he said of the experience and Italian music in general, ". . . my sensual nature lets itself be gripped by that music, which is at once facile, lazy, amorous, lascivious, and passionate."

Those new influences found their way into The Pearl Fishers, a stirring tale set in the Ceylon of antiquity.  At the heart of The Pearl Fishers is a compelling story of friendship tested by love.  As one might expect with such an operatic storyline, there exists a love triangle, irony, and torrid emotion, with themes of desire and rejection and of longing and loss, all portrayed with beautiful melody and song.  The crowning jewel of the opera is the famous duet “Au fond du temple saint,” which both highlights the bond of friendship and foreshadows the rising conflict between pearl fishers Zurga and Nadir, both of whom have fallen in love with the same woman. The story and the music, accompanied by grand choral passages and captivating dance sequences, make The Pearl Fishers an irresistibly intriguing evening at the opera.

As always, Dayton Opera Artistic Director Thomas Bankston has carefully selected the cast, matching each vocalist perfectly to the roles at hand in order to bring all the drama of Bizet's creation to light.  Having recently graduated from the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, soprano Chloé Moore makes her Dayton Opera debut with this production in the role of Leila, the priestess who has been sworn to chastity but who has attracted the love interest of the two longtime friends, creating the dramatic love triangle in this sweeping opera. 

Tenor Victor Ryan Robertson also makes his Dayton Opera debut as Nadir, a former fisherman turned hunter who has returned to his former fishing village, and one of the two longtime friends in love with the stunning Leila. Baritone Matthew Worth returns to Dayton Opera, having last appeared as Danilo in The Merry Widow in 2009. Worth will appear in the role of Zurga, the other pearl fisherman who has just been elected chieftain by the village, and the other of the two friends also in love with Leila.

Rounding out this talented cast is bass-baritone Kenneth Shaw, who returns for his staggering fifteenth performance with Dayton Opera! Between 2001 and 2015, Shaw has appeared in Dayton Opera productions of Barber of Seville, The Magic Flute, Rigoletto, Tosca, Little Women, La Cenerentola, Die Fledermaus, Samson and Delilah, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, Fidelio, and most recently in as the King of Egypt in the May 2014 production of Aida, the second time he performed this exact role with Dayton Opera, the first being in 2003.  Dayton Opera is thrilled to have Shaw back once again in The Pearl Fishers as Nourabad, the high priest of Brahma, and the elder voice of reason who reminds Leila of her vow of chastity, further complicating the thickening plot.

Joining Dayton Opera for the first time to stage direct this stunning masterpiece is Fenlon Lamb.  Ms. Lamb is currently the Director of Opera and Vocal Programming at Bar Harbor Music Festival.  Over the last several years, Ms. Lamb has held directing roles with numerous opera companies across the United States, including UMKS Conservatory of Music, Opera Carolina, Austin Lyric Opera, Orlando Philharmonic, Palm Beach Opera, Seattle Opera, Cleveland Opera on Tour, Toledo Opera, and Arizona Opera.  In 2014, Ms. Lamb directed a “fizzing and delightful” Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Palm Beach Opera, “displaying theatrical ingenuity and artistic taste.” (Palm Beach Opera)  Dayton Opera graciously welcomes Ms. Lamb to the Schuster Center for this exciting production.

Although there are only four principal roles in The Pearl Fishers, the Mead Theatre stage will be filled with sound and song as Dayton Opera Chorus members lend depth and richness to the unfolding story.  Opera Chorus Master Jeffrey Powell directs 40 Dayton Opera Chorus vocalists in fantastic choral passages to help tell the tragic tale at hand. 

The ravishing score is performed by the Dayton Philharmonic, under the baton of Artistic Director and Conductor Neal Gittleman. As with the DPAA's two other season Signature Events, the Dayton Ballet joins Dayton Opera on stage, this time with the full company of 19 dancers. Artistic Director Karen Russo Burke's choreography, performed with the athletic precision and artistic creativity of the incredibly talented dancers of Dayton Ballet, is sure to illustrate the exotic setting and island culture of The Pearl Fishers.

To learn even more about The Pearl Fishers, ticket holders can come one hour prior to both performances to hear pre-performance talks presented by University of Dayton music professor Dr. Sam Dorf.  Delicious “Opera bites” are also available in the Wintergarden before the performance and at the first intermission.

Tickets for The Pearl Fishers range from $38 to $94 and are available at or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630. Senior and student discounts are available. For more information on tickets, or how to subscribe to the upcoming 2015-2016 Ascend season, visit


About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the community, offering a tremendous variety of performance and education programs and setting a new standard for artistic excellence.  Dayton Performing Arts Alliance performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance also receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents.  The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is proud to be one of five performing arts organizations in the country selected to receive a three-year "Music Alive" grant from New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras.
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