Critic’s Choice

Tue Jan 22, 2019 at 6:00 pm
By Steven Brown

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee will portray romantic rival Nadir in Houston Grand Opera’s first-ever presentation of “The Pearl Fishers,” beginning Friday.

Houston Grand Opera will make up for a longtime omission Friday when the company raises the curtain on its first-ever staging of The Pearl Fishers, the melody-filled drama by the young Georges Bizet.

The production lost some star power this week when baritone Mariusz Kwiecień withdrew from the role of Zurga, one-third of the story’s love triangle, citing “personal circumstances” in an HGO statement. Baritone Alexander Birch Elliott, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut earlier this season replacing Kwiecien as Zurga at the Met, will do so again in Houston.

The cast still has its other big name: Bel canto specialist Lawrence Brownlee portrays Nadir, Zurga’s rival in love. As the priestess both men desire, soprano Andrea Carroll returns to HGO after playing Maria in last season’s West Side Story. Bizet’s tale of ancient Ceylon will unfold in a color-splashed Zandra Rhodes production premiered by San Diego Opera.

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and continue through Feb. 8 in Houston’s Wortham Theater Center.; 713-228-6737.

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