Is a production that not everybody is going to love, but I found it to have a lot of good things
La Damnation De Faust is an opera that always did draw me in. Perhaps I do prefer Les Troyens as a Berlioz opera, but great sequences(like the sequence in hell), a strong story and superb music really make the opera a more than worthwhile experience. This production is not one that everybody is going to be enthralled with, the Hungarian March sounds underpowered and the action on stage is similarly underwhelming, more inspired choreography was needed I feel and the production is a little heavy on the symbolism which can detract from the story and make the characters more like symbols themselves than real people. While the video directing is generally fine, some of the close-ups of the three perspiring in all honesty is not a pleasant sight.
That said, I did like the expressionistic sets, especially the one for the scene in Hell, and the costumes apart from the baker-like outfits for the chorus are effective. The video projections look splendid and give scenes like the Ride to the Abyss/Hell thrilling to watch on stage. I also liked in this scene that we see real horses. The orchestral playing is superb, the loud moments are rousing and the softer, more delicate moments have pathos. The conducting is very efficient, with few if any of the tempos questionable. The chorus, for what they lack in presence, make up for it by excellent singing. The three principals are great. Paul Groves is dashing as Faust with an appealing dream-like quality in his eyes, and his voice meets the lyric and dramatic demands of the role perfectly. Vessalina Kasarova is sometimes hampered by the giant cylinder that she is made to work with, but she sings with soaring high notes and mezzo notes that positively purr, and overall as Margherite she is very touching. Best of all is Willard White, true he is the opposite to what the libretto suggests, but what does it matter when he sings so resonantly and with such an imposing, quite demonic presence?
Overall, has a lot of good things but it is not going to be a production that is going to have people universally loving or hating it. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
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