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Subject: Damnation of Faust
From: Greg Berg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Greg Berg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 22 Nov 2008 20:42:12 -0800
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Bergitas here.

Fellow Lister Marshall Anderson and I saw the
Damnation of Faust simulcast in Racine this afternoon.
 .  . and found it to be a fascinating mixed bag.  As
we reached intermission,  I was ready to rank this
among my bottom three simulcasts . . .   underwhelmed
by the production and irritated by a lot of the camera
work.   But everything after the intermission was on
an entirely higher level, in my opinion. . .  Faust
and Marguerite's first encounter-  her beautiful
"L'amour" aria . . . the descent to hell . . . M's
redemption . . .    I couldn't take my eyes off of the
screen. I don't know if I just wasn't properly
prepared for the production and became accustomed to
it, or if LaPage just came up with better stuff for
the second half of the work,  but I walked away really
loving it.  Giordani suffers by comparison to more
charismatic and gifted singing actors, but he was
suitably ardent throughout and did some fine singing,
at least after the curiously muted opening scene.  
John Relyea was an utterly convincing devil - but then
again, I found myself comparing him to the rather
cartoonish performance of James Morris in the
Philadelphia Opera video.  Relyea delivered the goods
in much more elegant fashion- yet there was nothing
muted about his portrayal.   And if his vocalism
wasn't roof-shaking, it was rich and well-supported
and secure from top to bottom.  But I was most taken
by Susan Graham,  who embodied Marguerite so
completely -  and her "L'amour" aria was one of the
most moving things I have experienced in an opera
performance in quite some time. And I wonder if any of
you were as struck as I was by the difference between
Graham and Giordani in the scene where they first
meet.  The camera would go to her and we saw
Marguerite, fully engaged in the moment- and then the
camera went to Giordani and we were seeing a very good
tenor with eyes furtively darting to the conductor.  

One of the oddest experiences I had was when I went
out during intermission to refill my Diet Pepsi - and
on my way out and on my way back and I ended up
talking to probably a dozen or more people - and every
single one of them RAVED about what they had seen and
heard up to that point.   I kept my reservations to
myself, not wanting to douse their enthusiasm- and by
the end I was similarly impressed.  But it was
interesting to me that this went over as spectacularly
well as it did, at least at the Renaissance Cinema in
Racine, WI.   

Bergitas
Greg Berg
Racine, WI
web.mac.com/gregory.berg



      

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