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BWW Reviews: An Atomic Inspired FAUST Comes Back to the Met

Since its premiere in 1859, Faust has been a moderate success in comparison to its counterpart, Goethe's epic drama of the same name, and the Mets current revival of the 2011 production holds true. This production, directed by Tony Award winner Des McAnuff does well to add interest where the original opera falls short. Looking at the opera for its musicality, the production is spot on; for its modernized atomic design complete with beautiful projections that fill the Met stage, the production is again spot on; though somehow when combined with the five act score, expertly conducted by Alain Altinoglu, the night at the opera tends to be remembered as again just a moderate success.

After an exquisite instrumental overture played over the projected sullen face of Faust, tenor Piotr Beczala, we move into the cold metal set of Robert Brill. The scene- a laboratory, beautifully defined between two floor to ceiling spiral staircases on either side, is quickly filled with the Met chorus dressed in white lab coats and clipboards and atomic bombs (for the first time of many throughout the evening). The design does well to adapt and change to the various settings we see in Faust. The spiral staircases work well for Méphistophélès, played by John Relyea, to oversee and manipulate the action onstage. All told the set works to give striking pictures throughout the production.

Beczala sang the title role with expert phrasing and clarion top notes that had the audience shouting his praises far after "Salut! demeure chaste et pure" was finished. Relyea's Méphistophélès was played with emphatically demonic characteristics and Alexey Markov performed his role of Valentin with great power. His rich baritone voice perfectly colored both "Avant de quitter" earlier in the evening as well as in his death late in Act IV. The piece that ties these characters together, Marguerite, played by soprano Marina Poplavskaya, was skillfully acted though the singing was not as memorable as the previously mentioned performers.

All together, a strong production held together by the performances of the principal players and the added interest of the production. Faust continues tonight at the Metropolitan Opera House and runs through April 5. (212) 363-6000,

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From This Author Scott Frost

Scott Frost is a Production and Stage Manager and a Freelance Costume Designer. In addition to being a theatrical manager and designer he currently works (read more...)