Lee Blakeley‘s new production of Pearl Fishers, with set and costume designs by fellow Performing Arts clients Jean-Marc Puissant and Brigitte Reiffenstuel, has opened at Santa Fe Opera to enthusiastic reviews.
Headlining their reviw ‘A Pearl of Great Price’, the Santa Fe Reporter said ‘Lee Blakeley’s inventive stage direction includes one or two coups de théâtre that help make this Pearl Fishers seem even better than it is.’
‘Scenic design by Jean-Marc Puissant, equally thoughtful and original, leads the eye from SFO’s auditorium into the 19th century theatrical decrepitude of something like Peter Brooks’ Bouffes du Nord in Paris and thence to the massively picture-framed depiction of a mythic, fictitious Ceylon. A brilliant notion, and seeing’s believing. Brigitte Reiffenstuel garbs the chorus and principals soberly, except for Leïla, whose Act 1 costume transforms her into a gorgeous scarlet goddess-puppet. Her slinky, art deco gown in Act 2 would be just right for El Morocco.’
This is the first time the opera has been produced at Santa Fe.Santa Fe New Mexican noted how well Puissant’s design worked with the fantastic natural setting of the opera house: the audience were greeted by ‘a stage surrounded by a huge gilt picture frame of 19th-century design, which encased the set of an exotic temple square — its own impressive scale suggested by an immense foot carved from stone — and led the eye to a pulsating, real-life sunset with glowing clouds arranged in flawless equilibrium.’ Their summary of the production was: ‘Lee Blakeley directed the production with ceaseless respect, never allowing the work’s shortcomings to obscure its strengths or its most palpable exoticisms to descend to tastelessness. Jean-Marc Puissant’s sets, Brigitte Reiffenstuel’s costumes and Fisher’s lighting yielded a stunning succession of stage images.’