* Notes *
Hawai'i Opera Theatre just finished a 3 performance run of Gounod's Faust on Tuesday. The set was typical of what is seen regional opera houses, simple and employing multiple platforms. The use of projection was restrained, mostly in the background or on the lowered scrim before each act. General and Artistic Director Henry G. Akina's stage direction was straightforward, and the handling of the chorus was particularly deft.
The orchestra sounded a bit mushy at first in the overture under Maestro Mark Flint, the tempi somewhat slow and grave. The strings were nice, the first violin sounded great during his soli. The brass was slightly harsh at times, but there were only few intonation errors.
The chorus had some problems staying exactly together, but the sound was full. "Gloire immortelle de nos aïeux" and "Sauvée! Christ est ressucité!" were both strong. Leon Williams stood out from the chorus nicely as Wagner, and Dorothy Byrne was amusing as Marthe. Buffy Baggott made for an endearing Siébel, her voice is pleasant, without too much vibrato. Luis Ledesma (Valentin) sounded reedy and light.
The audience adored local singing Méphistophélès, Jamie Offenbach. Vocally he was warm, and perhaps slightly gravelly, but his embodiment of the character seemed complete. In the title role, John Bellemer was slightly stiff but acquitted himself well as far as singing. Melody Moore sounded sweet, warm, and clear as Marguerite. She looked demure in the first half of the opera, and appropriately unraveled by the end until her salvation.
* Tattling *
One could not help being delighted by the long white gowns worn by the female ushers. The audience was enthusiastic, but had a hard time remaining silent. A small elderly woman behind me in B 53 of the balcony had a cough, and spent much of her time unwrapping drops or loudly consuming them. She had difficultly staying still and bounced vigorously in her seat. She did leave at the second intermission. The performance received a standing ovation.