Just putting a marker down on the opening night of Faust – what with one thing and another can’t quite run to a full ‘reflections’.
McVicar production still works a treat. Lots of energy for the rather interminable dance numbers that keep popping up, and especially clever macabre classical ballet pastiche (“Simply gorgeous gown, Mephisto!”). Curious Les Miserables thing with a flag for the first scene in the square. Then a Kander & Ebb take on the scene where Faust sees Marguerite (at the Cabaret d’Enfer). What commercially-viable larks!
Gheorghiu was distinctly glitter-less in the Jewel Song: much mumbling and generic swishing back and forth. She was difficult to hear for most of that act, and the French was unfathomable. However, the last act really caught her art at its best, and she went convincingly mad, with more strength to the vocal tone, even when ‘blanched’ for dramatic effect. Quite magical – finally, she almost lived up to her hype again…
Rene Pape wasn’t Terfel, which is an unfair comparison, since if he lacked that last drop of dark, camp, dangerous malevolence, he lacked for nothing else: he was vocally sumptuous and dramatically fine throughout. Grigolo was impressive, in that eager-puppy-bouncing-off-the-scenery kind of way of his. He delivered a ringing voice to an appreciative audience.
Orchestra rose to the challenges set by Evelino Pidò, who clearly relished the big scenic numbers: the soldiers’ chorus was launched with a particularly resonant and fruity ‘oom-pah-pah’.
Great fun was had. The world wasn’t changed, but that’s Gounod’s Faust for you.