* Notes *
Director Robert Lepage's production La Damnation de Faust was shown as a simulcast over the weekend. His Met debut certainly had the marks of a production from that company. Carl Fillion's set was not entirely unlike the one for Doctor Atomic from a few weeks ago, both being vertical and grid-like. Both also made use of projections, though the ones here were more elaborate, reactions to the performers themselves.
Lepage did serve up one arresting image after another, and one must say that choreographers Johanne Madore and Alain Gauthier did especially fine work. However, at times it did seem like overkill for a piece that is most often performed unstaged. Going wild with video projections, dancing, and acrobatics was dizzying, though it translated well cinematically. The cameras moved quite a bit, but it seems that Barbara Willis Sweete is being less creative with her work, there were no moving or doubled images as in Tristan. It is, however, difficult to judge the overall impact of a production when there are so many closeups.
The musical values were exceedingly high, as usual, and conductor James Levine was impressive. Bass-baritone John Relyea had suitable eyebrow makeup for Méphistophélès, and he sang with great vigor. Marcello Giordani had not a trace of warmth in his voice, but sang perfectly well. Susan Graham was, however, sublime as Marguerite. Her "Autrefois un roi de Thulé" was lovely.
* Tattling *
Both sound and picture briefly stopped twice at the beginning of "D'amour l'ardente flamme" at the beginning of Part IV. The audience whispered a bit during the music, and there was much coughing. The cinemacast was supposedly sold-out in San Francisco, though there were quite a few seats that were empty in the first few rows.