Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Faust: Convince Me I Need to See It

So last night I finally opened the Marston release of the 1912 Faust, made in Paris with a nearly-all-star cast of Francophone singers. I made it about half-way through CD 1. I do plan to listen all the way through over the next couple of weeks, but so far nothing I've heard has budged me from my contention that Faust is the most boring opera still holding a place in the repertory. I mean, I'd rather sit through Elisir d'Amore or La Cenerentola, to give you an idea.

Convince me that there's something about the opera or next summer's international cast - with an Italian tenor, a Canadian bass, and an American soprano - that makes it worth my shelling out even $10 for standing room to see this thing. I bow to no one in my love of Patricia Racette, but....couldn't they have hired her for Minnie instead?


John Marcher said...

On the one hand, I agree it looks like the summer snoozer, but I would have thought having Racette in both the fall and summer schedules would have been enough for you.

However, to suggest replacing Voigt's first Minnie in favor of yet another Puccini/Racette production is just beyond the pale, Lisa! Please tell me you're not serious.

Sibyl said...

Sorry: there is no earthly reason to see Faust. It's 25 minutes of good vocal music in a 3.5 hour package. If I ever want to stop time entirely, say to stall the oncoming apocalypse, I will sit through the Kermesse or the Walpurgisnacht scenes in a theater again.

Lisa Hirsch said...

John, there've been plenty of reports over the last couple of years indicating that Voigt is in something of a vocal decline, plus she has, it is rumored, canceled at least one engagement because of health problems related to the gastric surgery. I missed her last SFO appearance, but have to wonder if she will sing. As for Racette, of course I'm serious. She's hot to trot with the role, and she's a splendid Puccini singer. Why wouldn't I want to hear her in Fanciulla rather than Faust?

Sibyl, LOL, and yeah. Put those 25 minutes on a program with the good 25 minutes from Manon and you have half a good opera.

Henry Holland said...

Lisa, could you add a comments box to the Music is... post? Thanks!

Sibyl, LOL, and yeah. Put those 25 minutes on a program with the good 25 minutes from Manon and you have half a good opera

Since it has to be French, I suppose, the good bits from Charpentier's Louise could make up the other half. But my god, what a fabulous other half, when that opera works it's just incredible. I desperately wanted to see it up in San Francisco with Fleming, but ala$.

Brian said...

Now see, I am a lover of French opera. No, really. I love Faust and just saw the same production SF will get next summer in Chicago with Beczala, Ana Maria Martinez, and a rather tipsy Rene Pape. It's not perfect, but the whole dead baby stuff at the end can be quite menacing if done right. Act III is all about pacing and I think is lovely as well. I will grant that it starts off on a uninspiring way, but once it gets rolling Faust is easily as engaging as half of what Verdi wrote. This production has some creepy magic in it as well.

As for Voigt. I saw her sing Tosca the same weekend as the Faust and she was rather harsh and shouty. I'm going to see her in Elektra this month but I thought she was decent even as recently as 2008 in Frau ohne Schatten. I'll agree though that Minnie seems like a long-shot.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I saw that SFO Louise (Fleming's most recent and perhaps last appearance here) and lots of it worked well. Loved the Montparnasse act!

Comment box on that posting? Are you kidding?!

Brian, I'll listen through the rest of the Faust set today - I am, alas, home sick - and if I like it...

That's too bad about Voigt.

John Marcher said...

I don't meant to keep stirring this pot, but Racette has done nothing but Puccini in SF since 2002(her last four engagements). Basta!

As for Voigt, while her last appearance here in that unfortunate Ballo of 2006 was nothing to get excited about, she sounded fine, if uninspired(why they didn't use the brilliant set from 1999 instead of that dreck is beyond me). But there was nothing at all in that production to be inspired by. Terrible!

Minnie is a lot different than Tosca. If Voigt has a problem with Elektra, then maybe there is something "going on" but I doubt that will be the case. She remains one of the best singers around.

Lisa Hirsch said...

It'd be great to have Racette in for her other favorite composer dude, Janacek, but the current rumor for next year is that it'll be Mattila for Makropoulos.

Voigt would have been having a problem with Chrysothemis in Elektra, which is still a different kettle of fish from Minnie.

Henry Holland said...

Lisa or anyone, any hints at what 2010-11 has in store at SFO? I love Makropoulous (it's my favorite Janacek along with Kat'a Kabanova), so that sounds interesting at least.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Opera Tattler has the goods on future seasons.