Lotte de Beer

Stage director

Pearl Fishers – 2014


Vienna, Theater an der Wien

Conductor: Jean Christoph Spinosi

Stage director: Lotte de Beer

Dramaturgy: Peter te Nuyl

Set-design: Marouscha Levy

Costume design: Jorine van Beek

Light Design: Alex Brok

Video Design: Finn Ross.


With: Diana Damrau, Nathan Gunn, Dmitri Korchak and Nicolas Teste.



A group of pearlfishers are gathered on a beach. One of them, Zurga, calls upon his fellow men to elect a leader. Without thinking, all of them answer that they want it to be him. He should be their leader. Immediately after being elected he hears someone in the bushes; Ah! it’s his long lost friend Nadir. Together they remember their mutual love for a veiled beauty. But their memories get interrupted by a canoe that they see coming from afar: who might that veiled lady be inside it…?

This libretto is know to be a challenge for directors.

The most fascinating aspect of this piece for me was the part of the chorus. They are present most of the piece and have a crucial part in the story. They start with a democratic act and end with a violent lynching.

These two aspects (the remarkable coincidences of the storyline combined with a democracy gone mad) lead me to the idea of setting the whole opera as a reality tv show. The contesters were chosen for their mutual histories and put upon a tropical island to play in a challenge of life and death. The tv audience watches from their homes and through their votes have the right to determine the faits of these contestants. For the three protagonists everything is new and real but we also see the story behind it.