* Notes *
The opening performance of a Faust revival at San Diego Opera occurred last night. Seen last season in San Francisco, the sets and costumes were designed by Robert Perdziola, with lighting from Michael Whitfield. Apparently the production, owned by Lyric Opera of Chicago, was actually designed for Tancredi. In San Diego, it was redesigned for Faust 10 years ago and the staging this time around was done by David Gately. It was striking how distinct this performance was from the San Francisco performances last June, despite having the same sets, costumes, and even one of the same singers. There was much more ballet in San Diego's version. The choreography for the chorus was simpler and had the singers remain onstage for more of Act I, Scene 2. The chorus did well, and were, for the most part, together. Karen Keltner had the orchestra sounding pretty and legato. The brass had a few evident vulnerabilities.
Scott Sikon was perfectly fine as Wagner, and Jane Bunnell was amusing as Marthe. Sarah Castle looked perfectly boyish as Siébel. Her voice was clean and bright, both her "Faites-lui mes aveux" and her scene with Marguerite at the end of Act III, Scene 1 were very sweet. Baritone Brian Mulligan was strong as Valentin, his "O Sainte Medaille" garnered the first ovation of the evening. Greer Grimsley looked and sounded like a convincing Méphistophélès. His voice has a certain husk-like quality to it that lacks prettiness and works for the Devil. Ailyn Pérez made for a fitting contrast, a lovely Marguerite indeed, especially for "Il était un roi de Thulé." Pérez possesses a wonderful effortlessness when she sings. Stephen Costello may have a slightly harder time as Faust, one or two high notes betrayed strain, but not constriction. Costello did sound plaintive, his voice is pleasant and has enough squillo to cut through the orchestration. Pérez and Costello made an attractive pair.
* Tattling *
The talking and whispering during overtures was unrelenting, at least on the right side of Row S on the orchestra level. No mobile phones were heard, but there were those who used them to check the time between scenes.