Press Room

For Press Inquiries, contact Camille Cintrón Devlin, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications at 703-993-8794 or


September 6, 2012
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.






Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 at 2 p.m.


FAIRFAX, Va., Sept. 6, 2012 – Virginia Opera, the Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia, opens its 2012-2013 season of performances with the company premiere of Georges Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers,” the spellbinding tale of friendship, jealousy, loyalty, love and religious duty. This poignant opera comes to George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 at 2 p.m. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to each performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III and is sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts.

Premiering more than a decade before “Carmen,” this early work by Bizet is evidence of his great musical gifts and serves as a prelude to the brilliant work that followed in his career. Set in a fishing village in ancient Ceylon, two pearl fishermen, Zurga and Nadir, whose friendship was tested years earlier over their romantic obsession with the same beautiful stranger, declare their brotherly bond in one of Bizet’s best-loved duets, “Au fond du temple saint” (the popular duet was even performed at the composer’s own funeral). But their long lost love, Leila, soon returns as a mysterious priestess, and when her true identity is revealed, their deadly rivalry is, quite literally, reignited.

A company premiere, “The Pearl Fishers” is the second installment in Virginia Opera’s new “First of Firsts” series, which was conceived to introduce new productions into the company’s repertoire. “Virginia Opera’s ‘First of Firsts’ initiative kicks off the season with a gorgeous melody-filled opera that’s being performed by the company for the first time in its history,” said Virginia Opera’s Artistic Advisor Robin Thompson. “This brand new production of ‘The Pearl Fishers’ is being custom-built for Commonwealth audiences. A truly exceptional experience awaits!”

 Internationally acclaimed conductor Anne Manson and Emmy-nominated director Tazewell Thompson make their Virginia Opera debuts with this production. Praised by The New York Times for her “significant achievements in the international opera world,” Manson is the first female conductor engaged by Virginia Opera, and she is one of only three women to have been appointed music director of a leading American symphony, having served with the Kansas City Symphony from 1999-2003.

Thompson has produced and directed more than 60 opera and theater productions, including the New York City Opera’s 2002 production of “Porgy and Bess,” which was televised on “Live from Lincoln Center,” and earned Emmy nominations for Best Classical Production and Best Director.

“My collaborators and I are approaching ‘The Pearl Fishers’ with the passion, precision and loving care that I’m sure the young genius Bizet did so long ago,” Thompson said. “It is a world where the erotic, the indulgent, the uninhibited dance boldly with rituals, taboos and superstitions that dare not be transgressed; a dreamland where the fantastical, the ecstatic, the rhapsodic co-exist recklessly. It is a veritable feast for eye and ear where the imagination can, and should, take flight.”

This production of “The Pearl Fishers” will feature soprano Heather Buck as the mysterious virgin priestess Leila, following her acclaimed performance in Virginia Opera’s production of “Orphée” earlier in 2012. Starring as the two pearl fishermen and Leila’s rival suitors are tenor Chad A. Johnson (“Don Giovanni,” 2010) as Nadir, and baritone David Pershall (Emerging Artists Program, 2008) as Zurga. Bass Nathan Stark, making his fifth Virginia Opera appearance, assumes the role of the wise village elder Nourabad. The orchestra for this production is provided by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

“The Pearl Fishers” is sung in French with English supertitles. Images will be available online at in the coming weeks. Virginia Opera may also be found on the web at, on Twitter at @vaopera and on Facebook at


Tickets for VIRGINIA OPERA’S production of “THE PEARL FISHERS” are Friday: $44, $72 and $86 and Sunday: $48, $80 and $98. Visit the box office (open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) or charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit The Center for the Arts complex is located on George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the Mason Pond Parking Deck adjacent the Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university Lot K. For more information, please visit Like us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at @GMU_CFA.


About Great Performances at Mason

Great Performances at Mason is a program of George Mason University's Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). CVPA provides an academic environment in which the arts are explored as individual disciplines and interdisciplinary forms that strengthen one another. The college prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs. Understanding that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the college, welcomes a variety of professional and world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Students have the opportunity to perform, create and exhibit their work in a wide variety of public venues including a 2,000-seat Concert Hall. CVPA is home to the Schools of Music, Dance and Art, the Department of Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management and Film and Video Studies programs.


About George Mason University

George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University – Where Innovation Is Tradition.