Opera San Jose Closes Season with FAUST, 4/21-5/6
Opera San José continues its 28th season with Gounod's Romantic-era masterpiece, Faust. Inspired by Goethe's legendary story of the old scholar who sells his soul to the devil for eternal youth, Faust is one of the most performed operas of all time. Opera San José founding music director, David Rohrbaugh, conducts with stage direction by Brad Dalton, who recently directed Opera San José's company premiere of Mozart's Idomeneo. Faust will be sung in French with English supertitles. Eight performances are scheduled from April 21 through May 6 at the California Theatre, 345 South First Street in downtown San José. Tickets are on sale at the Opera San José Box Office, by phone at (408) 437-4450 or online at www.operasj.org. Faust is made possible, in part, by a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José.
Gounod's Faust, with libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, is the timeless tale of the malevolent Méphistophélès, the devil in the flesh. He seduces the old scholar Faust, promising him the elixir of youth in exchange for his soul. Faust is transformed into a young, handsome man and sets out with his devious companion to experience the pleasures of the world. Faust charms the beautiful and innocent Marguerite, only to abandon her, unaware that she will give birth to his child. Her sanity is destroyed, but she is not beyond redemption. Marguerite Calls upon the angels for salvation.
Faust premiered in Paris in 1859 and became one of the most performed operas world-wide. When Gounod died in 1893, the opera had been performed more than 1,000 times in Paris alone. It was selected to open the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1883 and has been presented there more than 730 times, including the recent co-production with the English National Opera staged by Tony-award winning director, Des McAnuff.
David Rohrbaugh, Opera San José's founding music director and principal conductor, will conduct Faust. Rohrbaugh has conducted more than 60 productions and 600 performances, including company premieres of La rondine, Der fliegende Holländer, Falstaff, Un ballo in maschera, and Werther. He is a professor emeritus of voice and opera from San José State University, where he taught for 30 years and co-directed the Opera Workshop with Opera San José General Director, Irene Dalis. The April 29 and May 1 performances will be conducted by Joseph Marcheso. Previous Opera San José productions for Marcheso include La traviata, La bohème, Manon, La Cenerentola, The Elixir of Love and Lucia di Lammermoor. Marcheso has conducted La traviata with Festival Opera and recently made his debut for Opera Theater St. Louis with Joshua's Boots by Adolphus Hailstork. Starting in the 2012 season, he will be joining the conducting staff of San Francisco Opera, principally working on and covering John Adams' Nixon in China and Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick.
International stage director Brad Dalton returns to Opera San José to direct Faust. Dalton's previous credits with the company include the company premiere of Mozart's Idomeneo, the West Coast premiere of David Carlson's Anna Karenina, Così fan tutte and Madama Butterfly. He has directed productions for opera companies throughout the United States and abroad, including San Francisco Opera, The Metropolitan Opera, Washington Opera, Opera Boston, San Diego Opera, Barbican in London, and the State Opera of South Australia. In 2004, Dalton received the prestigious Helpmann Award for "Best Director of an Opera" in Australia.
Faust features current members of Opera San José's resident company in principal roles as well as returning guest artists. Resident bass Silas Elash performs the role of the cunning Méphistophélès. Elash's previous roles with the company include Dr. Grenville (La traviata), the Voice of Nettuno (Idomeneo), Colline (La bohème), Bartolo (The Barber of Seville) and Scarpia (Tosca). He shares the role with guest artist Branch Fields, who appeared as Sparafucile in the company's 2001 production of Rigoletto. Fields has performed with New York City Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Asheville Lyric Opera and Opera Company of North Carolina to name a few and appeared on Broadway in the Lincoln Center revival of South Pacific. Resident tenors Alexander Boyer and Michael Dailey share the role of the old philosopher, Faust. They previously alternated in the role of Alfredo in Verdi's La traviata. Earlier this season, Boyer appeared in the title role in Opera San José's company premiere of Mozart's Idomeneo and Canio in Pagliacci. Dailey appeared as Beppe in Pagliacci and thrilled audiences last season in The Barber of Seville. Resident sopranos Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste and Jasmina Halimic alternate in the role of Marguerite. Jean-Baptiste and Halimic previously shared the role of Nedda in Opera San José's production of Pagliacci and both earned rave reviews in the title role of David Carlson's Anna Karenina in the 2010-11 season. Sharing the role of Marguerite's brother, Valentin, are resident baritones Evan Brummel and Krassen Karagiozov, and taking on the "trouser" role of Siebel are resident mezzo-soprano Betany Coffland and guest artist Cathleen Candia. Rounding out the cast are Heather Clemens as Marthe and Sepp Hammer as Wagner.
Opera San José's production of Faust includes set designs by Steven C. Kemp, costumes by Malabar (designed by Earl Staley, Toni Businger), lighting design by David Lee Cuthbert, and wig and makeup designs by Jeanna Parham.