Thursday, November 20, 2008

Susan Graham, D'amour l'ardente flamme, La Damnation de Faust at the Met

"Robert Lepage, one of theater’s most imaginative directors, applies his artistry to Berlioz’s contemplation of good and evil. Using projections, Lepage has created a vision for La Damnation de Faust that seamlessly marries art and technology. Marcello Giordani stars in the title role opposite Susan Graham as Marguerite and John Relyea as Méphistophélès. James Levine conducts this rarely staged masterwork."

Conductor: James Levine
Marguerite: Susan Graham
Faust: Marcello Giordani
Méphistophélès: John Relyea
Production: Robert Lepage
Associate Director: Neilson Vignola
Set Designer: Carl Fillion
Costume Designer: Karin Erskine
Lighting Designer: Sonoyo Nishikawa
Choreographer: Johanne Madore, Alain Gauthier
Video Design: Holger Foerterer, Boris Firquet

I LOVED THIS! The music was transcendant. I thought the set and projections were interesting and beautiful. It's almost all chorus, splendidly performed by the Met Chorus, but Susan Graham was perhaps the best I had ever heard her. Marcello Giordani, usually his old boring reliable self, was less than reliable this time as he seemed to have some vocal issues in the second act. Perhaps, he is finally stretching it too thin with all the double duty of this role and filling in on Madama Butterfly. Either way, I liked his physical presence next to Susan's. I was thrilled to see my little friend Mallory right in the front row, third from the left, in the final scene, looking every bit as angelic as the character she was playing. The best part was Susan's "D'amour l'ardente flamme". Oh my gosh, it left me breathless. I don't think I've ever heard something so beautiful at the Met. Thoughout the production, images are projected on giant screens to enhance the set. During this aria, Susan's face and upper body was projected there in a wall of flames. The flames over her face moved in reaction to the timbre and volume of her voice though special sensors attached to microphones. I don't know how it all worked, but it was very cool. The only downfalls of the evening were that there were fans cooling extra lights in the lighting boxes at the family circle level, which I tuned out eventually, and during the first ten minutes the radio of assumably one of the lighting technicians was still on and was quite loud. A few patrons in the family circle reacted badly and tried to sush and yell that it be turned off, which was really more distracting that the radio itself. Overall, it was an extraordinary evening of sound and sight at the Met, mostly thanks to the incomparable Susan Graham.

A previous production of La Damnation de Faust just to give you a taste:


of the kosmos said...

I saw it in HD yesterday, absolutely loved it! I was so moved by the scene where she's saved..what a beautiful tableau

Tyler Barton said...

As to the part about stretching himself too thin, I think you are perfectly correct about Marcello Giordani. He definitely needs to take it easy. He just sung two roles in one day at The Met (I think the other role he sang was Pinkerton, and I believe it was on the day of the HD broadcast.)! If he decides to back out of a few performances, I really do not think anyone will blame him.