Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Better late than never! Faust, 28th September 2011

It was almost a week ago that I actually saw this and I've only just gotten round to writing about it! In short, this was a cracking night at the opera. I knew nothing of the music or the composer, Gounod, before going to see Faust, and I was pleasantly surprised. The story promised much: An ageing Dr.Faust sells his soul to the devil in return for eternal youth and beauty. He falls in love with the young, and of course innocent, Marguerite. He then essentially ends up destroying her life, getting her pregnant, abandoning her, rocking back up some months later to kill her brother in a sword fight. She in turn kills her child and is banished by her towns folk and put on death row for her crime. It's all dramatic stuff and shows that meddling with the devil always ends in a total mess!
As befits such a tale, the music is grand and stirring. There's a cabaret scene, plus an extremely explicit and uncomfortably macabre ballet in the final act - in which an orgy takes place and a dancer posing as a pregnant woman is  assaulted (it's not something that you're likely to see in the Royal Ballet's repertoire, lets put it that way!). The three main roles were brilliantly played with Vittorio Grigolo as Faust, Angela Gheorghiu as Marguerite and Rene Pape as the devil. The role of the devil was especially fun (why are devils always portrayed as the sort of guy you could have rollicking night out with?!), although his true colours come shining through in the final act and he lives up to his 'evil bastard' reputation. Grigolo was especially excitable at the curtain call, coming on with a t-shirt declaring his love for his mum & dad and also London (might have had something to do with the live cinema broadcast across the globe).
All in all i really enjoyed this production, a great second opera of the season, and i reckon a pretty good first opera too if you're looking for a starting point. Engaging, unexpected, grand, dramatic, brilliantly performed.
Stars: ****
Seat: Upper Slips, £15, AA2 - Side view of the stage, so a lot of leaning forward. But as the seat was at the front of the Upper Slips and basically on the end of the row, the view was pretty good. Especially for £15.

NEXT OPERA: Placido Domingo Celebration, 27th October.

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