Faust @ Salle Wilfrid Pelletier – May 19, 2012

Faust, the Opéra de Montréal’s final production of the 2012-2013 season, gives a new spin on a widely told tale. Director Alain Gauthier sets a simple, yet striking, stage to tell the story of Doctor Faust and his deal with the devil. The story begins with an aged Faust bemoaning his lot in life, and yearning for his lost youth. As he contemplates taking his own life, he is presented with a unique opportunity to start anew. The price he must pay: his soul. Intrigued but disturbed by Mephistopheles’ offer, he is ultimately seduced into acceptance when presented with the vision of a beauty named Marguerite.  Driven by desire, and counseled by the devil, Faust alters his own destiny and condemns Marguerite’s fate.

One of the big “twists” of Gauthier’s interpretation of Gounod’s classic opera, is that real life father-son tenors (Guy and Antoine Bélanger) have been cast in the leading role. Juxtaposing them throughout the performance was a brilliant way of conveying the angst Faust must endure as he realizes the consequences of his actions. I must say, it also lent a wonderfully convincing aspect to have the physicality of Faust, both young and old, to be in synch like only two men genetically related could achieve.

A stand out performance for me was that of Alexander Vinogradov as Mephistopheles. To say he is a “Bass” is an understatement, evoking more the deep and resonating sound of a double bass! Mary Dunleavy also soared as Marguerite, taking her Soprano voice to incredible heights. And I was smitten once again with the set design of this production. Doctor Faust’s towering library shelves of the opening act are moved about the stage with ease and grace yet existed like towering and majestic characters in their own right.

The orchestra was solid and wonderful, as usual, and I am excited for L’OdM to continue wowing us in 2012-2013!

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