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“A fascinatingly vital production”

Due to sing Marguerite in this revival of David McVicar’s 2004 production, star German soprano Diana Damrau pulled out a week ago because of a slipped disc. Her replacement, Russian soprano Irina Lungu, pulled out on the day the revival opened with a throat infection.

Flying in to save the show, another German soprano – Mandy Fredrich – arrived late in the afternoon; and though clearly unfamiliar with the production, she got through it with just a little to spare.

The rest of the cast rallies round and give performances of panache. Michael Fabiano’s convincingly rejuvenated philosopher is cleanly and vigorously sung, with delicacy and sensitivity prominent in the mix. Erwin Schrott’s Mephistopheles – apparently also delivered with an indisposition on the first night – is unbeatable in its brilliant combination of malevolence with broad, knowing comedy.

Though Marta Fontanals-Simmons is an uneven Siebel, Stéphane Degout gives a deliberate account of Marguerite’s brother, Valentin, and Carole Wilson makes a rampant Dame Marthe.

With its sinister group of evil spirits aiding and abetting Mephistopheles in his wicked schemes, West End choreography, flamboyance and occasional outrageousness, McVicar’s show remains a fascinatingly vital piece in the hands of revival director Bruno Ravella.

Its overall premise – showing the composer himself torn between the world of the theatre and the church – may be laboured academicism, but its striking visuals are a fine match for the vivid theatricality of Gounod’s endlessly inventive score, which, even with a few moments of untidy ensemble, generally comes over well under conductor Dan Ettinger.

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Production Details
Production nameFaust
VenueRoyal Opera House
StartsApril 11, 2019
EndsMay 6, 2019
Running time3hrs 35mins
ComposerCharles Gounod
DirectorDavid McVicar, Bruno Ravella
ConductorDan Ettinger
Set designerCharles Edwards
Costume designerBrigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting designerPaule Constable
CastCarole Wilson, Erwin Schrott, Mandy Fredrich, Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Michael Fabiano, Stephane Degout
ProducerFondazione Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi Trieste, Opera De Lille, Opera De Monte Carlo, Royal
VerdictA last-minute cast replacement doesn't hamper this revival of David McVicar’s vivid production
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George Hall

George Hall

George Hall

George Hall

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