Lee Blakeley directs this first revival of David McVicar’s recent production, which again comes over vividly. With its blend of sheer theatrical panache and a clever presentation of the work’s central battle between good and evil, this production seems set to restore Gounod’s warhorse to a prime position in the London repertory. Even if, as here, the new cast doesn’t quite match the star-studded line-up of the original.
John Tomlinson’s Mephistopheles reveals the comic side of the devil well but the sinister side is far less in evidence. His voice has definitely seen better days. Elena Kelessidi is an uneven Marguerite, not quite in focus dramatically and without some of the necessary vocal sparkle. Dalibor Jenis is a good solid Valentin, with enough beefy tone to do credit to his big aria.
Katija Dragojevic sings the young lad Siebel without distinction. But Della Jones gives great value in her largely comic turn as Dame Marthe and Matthew Rose is an accomplished Wagner.
Where this production really does offer something vocally extraordinary is in the Faust of Polish tenor Piotr Beczala. A good actor, his tone is simply glorious and he brought the house down with ‘Salut, demeure’. A star, I think, is born.
Maurizio Benini conducts an orchestra and chorus on top form and gives a broadly dramatic account of the marvellously theatrical score. But it is the tenor who steals this show.