After singing Leïla in Melbourne and Perth last year, 2016 Limelight Australian Artist of the YearEmma Matthews is looking forward to the upcoming production of Bizet’s The Pearlfishersfor Opera Queensland. “I sang The Pearlfishersabout six years ago,” Matthews says. “I wasn’t ready, because I didn’t have the vocal skills to give it all the power that I should have. It was a bit daunting, my first experience. I know the piece back to front now – this is my fourth go at it.”

The Pearlfishersis set on the island of Ceylon where the friendship of two men, pearl fishermen Zurga and Nadir, is almost destroyed by their love for a priestess, whom they had both agreed to renounce when they first saw her years before in the city of Kandy. When the priestess, Leïla, comes to bless the fishermen, Nadir and Leïla recognise each other while Zurga at first remains oblivious. Léïla is torn between her love for Nadir and her vows of chastity, Nadir is torn between his love for Léïla and his loyalty to Zurga, while Zurga is consumed by his passion for Leïla and his jealousy of Nadir.