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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Overcrowded Solarium, 11 November 2009
Author: Gyran from Birmingham, England
This is the first time I have seen La Damnation de Faust attempted as
an opera rather than as a sort of dramatised cantata. It works very
well in Robert Lepage's imaginative multimedia production. To me
multimedia usually means people performing on stage while irrelevant
pictures are projected behind them. Not in this production though.
There are two layers of back-projection with live performers inside the
sandwich so it is difficult to tell what is live and what is recorded.
The set is divided into 24 boxes so that it looks superficially like a
giant sudoku. There are dancers and acrobats in every box doing
something slightly different. I particularly enjoyed the Hungarian
march with the soldiers marching backwards and the Amen fugue in the
Act I tavern scene.
Marcello Giordani is an effective Faust, much better than his performance as Pinkerton in the current Met season. He has a particularly good Act II soliloquy although maybe he runs out of some steam towards the end of the opera. John Relyea is a dapper Mephistopheles in what looks like a red leather Robin Hood outfit. Before his entrance there are five Jesuses hanging on neon crosses (don't ask me why) who quickly duck out of the way when he appears.
This version of the Faust story is recognisably similar to that found in Gounod's opera or Boito's Mefistofole. It also suffers from the same drawback of being too episodic. The narrative begins to get confused when Susan Graham's Marguerite appears in Act II (no fault of hers) and goes downhill from there. It ends up in a Hell that looks remarkably like an overcrowded solarium with rows of men in shorts tanning themselves before the flickering flames.
This is an interesting realisation of Berlioz's Légende Dramatique which, ultimately, does not quite convince me that it can hold its own on the operatic stage.
Interesting, 23 February 2012
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
This production is not for me one of the best of the Met HD broadcasts,
but it is hardly one of the worst either. If anything, it is very
interesting, if not perfect. The HD as always is fantastic, but while I
loved the creative and cinematic look of the camera work and the
elaborate video projection, I could have done with less of the
close-ups. The picture and sound also briefly stops at the start of
part IV, or so it did watching the simulcast, and while the sound
quality is mostly good, it is not quite good enough to ignore the
On a more positive note, I did love the daring and beautifully danced choreography. Occasionally, for a piece that I often see or hear performed unstaged, some of the acrobatics and stuff can feel like overkill, but I loved the professionalism of it all and found it overall exciting. The staging was likewise impressive, with the Hungarian March and Amen Fugue standing out. Visually it also works, a beautiful-looking production as such it's not, nor did it necessarily need to be. The sets are reminiscent of those of Doctor Atomic, which I loved, vertical and grid-like, which worked. The costumes especially Mephistopheles' are very good.
Musically, it can't be faulted. The orchestra play of a high standard as they consistently do, and James Levine's conducting is efficient and you can tell he loves what he does. I also find here he is quite enigmatic in the pit, and thankfully with less of his entertaining habits showing(ie. singing along like in the Met Gala Concerts of the early 80s he conducted). The music is beautiful, D'Amour L'Ardente Flamme stands out and Autrefois Un Roi De Thule is one of Berlioz's loveliest.
Nothing to complain about the singing either. Marcello Giordani is a great Faust, giving one of his better performances of the Met HD series with only his Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut better in my view. His acting is never too stolid and while lacking the warmth heard with his Des Griuex and Pinkerton the voice still rings. Susan Graham is a fine artist and is sublime as Margerite especially in Autrefois Un Roi De Thule. John Relyea is a joy to watch, he certainly looks the part of the imposing demon especially the eyebrows, the acting is menacing and sarcastic and the singing is vigorous and resonant, much more so than his firm but occasionally gravelly vocal production in I Puritani.
Overall, an interesting production, one I am glad I watched but not quite good enough to be one of my favourites. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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