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Bizet: The Pearl Fishers, “I Believe I Hear Again Her Voice”

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: what kind of hero is named “Nadir”?

Bizet never really entertained any hope of being a “B.” For starters,he wasn’t German and he was largely an operatic composer. Also, his career didn’t really take off until shortly before his death, with the all-but-posthumous “Carmen.” “The Pearl Fishers” was composed about a decade earlier than “Carmen,” and similarly embraces its exotic setting for all its worth! In this case, the setting is a tropical island where natives make their living diving into the sea for pearls. Although the locale is indistinguishable in practice from that of a fairy-tale, the opera was intended to be set in ancient Ceylon. Renamed Sri Lanka in 1972, in Bizet’s time Ceylon was an important hub of colonial trading. In this aria, heroic Nadir sings of his love for the unattainable priestess Leila.

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