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Subject: Fabiano's Faust in Houston
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Sun, 6 Nov 2016 00:59:12 -0400

text/plain (51 lines)

HGO put on an excellent "Faust" tonight with Michael Fabiano in the title role making his 
HGO debut.  This was my first time hearing Fabiano in person, and he did not disappoint.  
His Faust was beautifully sung, musical and stylish and dramatically alert.  The voice was 
full and ringing, except the high notes.  These were not exactly strained or forced - the high 
C in "Salut demeure" was definitely there and was sustained for several beats - but they did 
not have the ring and resonance of his middle and upper middle registers.  In fact, they had 
a completely different sound from the rest of his voice.  Still, long may he sing; he is an 
exciting tenor with real star quality.  (Now if only he could get more ring in those high 

Ana Maria Martinez was a touching Marguerite and, like Fabiano, sang well.  She had plenty 
of power when needed - Marguerite is a Big Sing - and, as always, her voice was focused 
with a lovely color.  The Jewel Song was excellent with good trills.  The love duet in Act II 
was a highlight of the evening.  In this production Martinez got "Il ne revient pas" which she 
sang with babe in arms.  

Luca Pisaroni's  Mephistopheles was more lyrical than bellowed, although there was plenty 
of sardonic cackling.  Joshua Hopkins was a late substitute for the scheduled Valentin, who 
had to withdraw due to illness.  It is not a large voice but has an attractive sound.  There 
was no high note ending "Avant de quitter" which left it a bit flat.  Megan Mikailovna 
Samarin was a charming Seibel - she got to sing "Si le bonheur" - and Margaret Lattimore 
had real vocal presence and made a meal of Marthe's heavy-handed coquettishness in Act 

As always at HGO, Richard Bado's magnificent chorus was a highlight of the performance.  
The orchestra played well under Antonio Flogliani who brought out the lyricism in Gounod's 
lush score but was sometimes a bit short on dramatic fire; "Le veau d'or" did not crackle as 
it should.

Francesca Zambello's production was very traditional, with full medieval garb for costumes 
and painted back- and side-drops.  Marguerite actually got a cottage with backlit windows in 
the garden scene.  In fact, the Kermesse scene verged on the kitschy, with all the quaint 
costumes and a (not very well painted) valley backdrop.  Still, it was nice, for a change, to 
see what the libretto told us we were seeing, rather than aluminum stairs or something.  
Queen Victoria would have been very happy with Marguerite's ascent into a cloud-filled 
sunlit heaven.  I loved it.


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