Les Pêcheurs de Perles / The Metropolitan Opera

Anthony Tommasini

The New York Times

Mr. Polenzani makes a poignantly believable Nadir, who arrives soon after the election of his old friend."

Nadir has secretly followed Leila to the village. First, though, he reunites with Zurga during the great duet of friendship, “Au fond du temple saint.”

In this piece, the men reaffirm their promise to avoid Leila. To young men like Nadir and Zurga, a bond of friendship would have been a life-defining attachment. Yet, from the way this well-known duet is staged here, the strains of such a pledge are made apparent …

Later in this act, when Nadir is alone, he confronts the truth in the enraptured aria “Je crois entendre encore.” Despite his pledge, Nadir did for a time have an illicit romance with Leila; he still yearns for her. Mr. Polenzani sang this haunting aria of remembrance with wondrous lyrical tenderness while conveying the music’s gently swaying gait. And if you think it’s impossible for a tenor to cap phrases of a dreamy aria with melting, pianissimo high notes, report to the Met to hear Mr. Polenzani demonstrate how this is done superlatively.