Mar 18, 2007

Faust, MET, March 17, 2007

And you, what did you do last evening ?
I personally listened to the MET live broadcast of Gounod’s Faust.


Marguerite: Ruth Ann Swenson
Siébel: Karine Deshayes
Faust: Ramón Vargas
Valentin: Hung Yun
Méphistophélès: Ildar Abdrazakov
Conductor: Maurizio Benini

Mary Sohl / Metropolitan Opera

The overall performance was good, not great, one of those I won’t probably remember in a couple of years.

Ramon Vargas, supposedly one of the best tenors in the world right now was a disappointment, especially in the first act, where, apart from his unimpressive skills to pronounce French properly, he had some bad notes here and there.
He was much better later on, but in the love act, the third one, he was not very credible either.

Hung Fun’s Valentin was equally average, with some problems on low notes especially at the enc of act four (when he dies).

Ildar Abdrazakov as Méphistophélès had some sparkles, as did Karine Deshayes singing Siébel.

Maurizio Benini gave a solid interpretation of Gounod’s score, cutting (as so often with this piece) the first scene of Act IV, as well as the first scene of Act V (a cut rarely done).
But, in my mind, Faust is one of these operas you can’t really conduct poorly, the score being so straightforward and coherent from beginning to end.

The real surprise for me was Ruth Ann Swenson, whose Marguerite was very unique and very attractive (though she had some problems at the end of long aria such as the Jewel song), a well-balanced mixture between her naïve moments and her dark side.

This MET’s production of Faust was created in 2005 by Andrei Serban and received a lot of critics. Further info in this NY Times article from Allan Kozinn.

Lucy Arner on Faust: "Simple is not simplistic".

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