* Notes *
Faust (Act II with Michael Dailey and Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste, photograph by P. Kirk) opened at Opera San José last night. The ambitious performance had some lovely points, but was, on the whole, rather scattershot. The orchestra, lead by David Rohrbaugh, sounded slightly lax. The overture was drawn out so that we could hear all the tunes we would be hearing later in the evening. The tempi were not too slow as much as simply lacking tension. The woodwinds did sound clear and sweet. The organ was also excellent.
The chorus was a little patchy, perhaps the music simply demands a few more people. Evan Brummel sang Valentin well, his voice is dry but pleasant. Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste (Marguerite) has a rich, powerful sound. Her big aria, the Jewel Song, could have been more smoothly sung, and her top is a bit on the raw side. Silas Elash looked like a pirate version of Méphistophéles. His voice is strong, a little gravelly, with a great openness his higher notes. Michael Dailey's Faust was distinctive. His nasal, somewhat petulant tone did not make the character sympathetic, but was perhaps appropriate for the role.
The production, directed by Brad Dalton, evoked the Flemish Primitives. The backdrops recreated various paintings by Bosch, Bruegel, and the like. There was no strong sense of interior or exterior parts of the set. The cast seemed drawn to standing on whatever was highest: chairs, tables, or rickety staircases. Dalton referred to Marguerite's dead sister throughout the opera, and used a young supernumerary to this end. The effect was eerie, but not exactly in line with the music. Four dancers were also employed as minions of Méphistophéles, pushing the action along.
* Tattling *
The couple in Row M Seats 108 and 109 talked the entire evening. Otherwise the audience was supportive and engaged.