Mar 18, 2009

Damnation de Faust, Met 2008

Hector Berlioz  
légende dramatique en quatre parties
livret Hector Berlioz et Almire Gandonnière

Faust - Marcello Giordani
Marguerite - Susan Graham
Méphistophélès - John Relyea
Brander - Patrick Carfizzi

Conductor: James Levine
Production: Robert Lepage
Metropolitan Opera House
November 22, 2008 Matinee broadcast

The more I listen to Berlioz, the more convinced I am that his music is indeed unique. There's an overwhelming atmosphere to it, that I would compare to Schubert's. Muti's interpretation of Episodes de la vie d'un artiste in Paris certainly unlocked new doors. Berlioz is so much more than one of those XIXth-century French composers.

The production

Robert's Lepage's production at the Met is, in my opinion, a beautiful one. It suits Berlioz's score brilliantly and is very cohesive overall, quite an accomplishment considering the piece. It also does capture pretty well the spirit of the XIXth-century Paris atmosphere Berlioz lived in. By all means, Lepage's production was really the key to immerse myself into Berlioz's music.

The music

On the other hand, I was disappointed by James Levine's performance. His conduction was too fast and not vivid enough for me. Krivine's performance last June was on such a different level.
The whole musical performance really comes to the way "Ange adoré" and the duet with Marguerite following Faust's aria (Part 2) is handled - or not handled, rather. Marcello Giordani's high notes were so hideous (they were horrendous all evening long) he sounded more like a yorshire barking, and Levine just left him to his misery. He could have had the orchestra help, for instance.

The only true shining moment came with "D'amour l'ardente flamme". For once, the orchestra and the singer were actually sharing something. Susan Graham was overall an interesting Marguerite, though she had trouble coping with her breath on that particular aria. John Relyea was a very good Méphistophélès.

All photographs Ken Howard for the Metropolitan Opera.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Graham and Relyea will also be in the Chicago Lyric production February/March 2010, along with Paul Groves. I have no idea what the staging will be like.