This amazing opera manages to be hilarious and profoundly beautiful at the same time. It contains
one gorgeous Donizetti melody after another, sung by a superb cast in a variety of combinations, and the plot zips along without a wasted moment. I would strongly recommend this totally accessible piece for anyone who thought they didn't like opera.
Faust is a big, overblown examination of the problem of teenage pregnancy in a traditional Christian
society, and it ends with an almost comical religious outburst, "Christ is risen!" when the seduced and abandoned heroine dies and rises up to heaven. The producer, Des McAnuf, asserts during his Intermission-time interview that his is a "secular" treatment of the opera, but Gounod's music and the libretto are so crammed with religious claptrap that there is no way anyone, short of cutting out large chunks of the work, could make it secular. Fortunately, no such cutting was done, and the music survives intact--lush, beautiful, powerful--and a little silly. McAnuf tries to impose American guilt at the dropping of the atomic bombs on the usual Faust theme of selling one's soul to the devil, but the connection is not only unconvincing (and both geographically and historically chaotic), it diminishes the true immensity of America's sin. Finally, tho, this is the Met, and worth a look.
I've seen lots of Met in HD broadcasts, thought this was one of the best yet. The beauty of Anna
Netrebko's singing, with the new depth added by the years and the pounds, was breathtaking, as was her sheer stamina in this demanding role. Ekaterina Gubanova as Jane (Giovanna) Seymour was right up there in her league, and when the two of them teamed up in Act II, the effect was electrifying. I wondered if the projection equipment had been improved since my last HD viewing: the picture was sharper and brighter than before. I hope this eventually comes out on Blu-ray.
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