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Archive for December 11th, 2012

Faust — Gounod

(Another opera review from when I was in Vienna, Austria!)

 

It was very refreshing to finally hear a French opera at the Staatsoper with it being my other degree. I really did enjoy this production of Gounod’s Faust. The opening was very dramatic and daunting in the orchestra which set the mood perfectly for what was to come in the plot. The curtain opened to the old man, Faust sitting in an armchair mourning his waste of life on scholarly pursuits and fervent desires for an opportunity yet to shine with vigour and love. Right from the beginning the tenor sounded strained, and the higher he climbed the more I cringed. He really incorporated the sob vocal technique which brought more character and drama to his arias. At one point, his voice did break. After two failed attempts at suicide, he renounces both science and faith and summons the devil. Méphistophélès was the most attractive man I had ever seen on the Staatsoper stage out of all of the productions I went to there. In my opinion, he had the best voice of the cast. So deep and rich, like velvet chocolate. It was a plus to see him without a shirt and in that black leather. His acting and stage presence was very well-thought out and embodied. He tempts Faust with an image of the saint-like Marguerite and offers him a second chance at youth with himself at Faust’s beck and whim in exchange for his soul in Hell to serve him when his death comes.

The next scene is in the town square where the military men meet to prepare for war with first a rousing drinking chorus. Valentin, Marguerite’s brother prepares to leave and sings a wonderful aria entrusting the care of his sister to Siébel, a young and endearing boy also in love with Marguerite. Valentin certainly merited the fervent applause after his song. Satan then approaches the crowd, provides them with wine and sings a song about a golden calf. The others suspect there is foulness and devilry in the air, and Valentin stands up to Méphistophélès, only to have his sword shattered. Faust enters the scene and declares his love to Marguerite who rejects his arm out of modesty. I was not impressed with her voice at all. It was very weak and not fully developed. I could barely hear her over the orchestra, and her French diction was not very precise at all.

I enjoyed the mezzo-soprano’s voice and her portrayal of the Siébel. In the third act he leaves a bouquet for Marguerite on the bench, and Faust creates a competition out of it, sending the Devil after a more impressive gift. He returns with a box of exquisite jewelry. Marguerite finds them and is enthralled by their brilliance. Unfortunately, the “Jewel Song” was very lackluster for me. I don’t think she was strong enough for this role. Faust and the Devil appear and put their charm on the women. I was really surprised when the Devil actually reached down and actually put his hand on the older woman’s breast as he was creating the illusion of romance. Faust and Marguerite finally kiss and declare their love to one another; the Devil is happy to see his plans being carried out well.

In the next act, we discover that Marguerite has been abandoned by Faust, carried his child, and is now a social outcast. But Siébel stands by her. Valentin returns with his company and learns of his sister’s faring, rejecting her outright. He seeks revenge upon Faust, but Méphistophélès guides Faust’s hand, leading to the death of Valentin who curses Marguerite to Hell.

The following act brings us to a prison cell where Marguerite is chained for having killed her child. The Devil helps Faust go to her and attempt to free her, but she refuses his aid, leaving it up to God and the angels to judge her. She rejects Faust and the Devil, fainting. The Devil tries to condemn her but finds her protected, so instead he drags Faust down to Hell. Marguerite rises and walks forward into the brilliant white light in the midst of Heavenly music.

I thoroughly enjoyed this production, but I almost felt that there wasn’t sufficient closure in the staging.

 

Yes, this is a picture of the gorgeous opera star that was Mephistopheles when I actually saw it in Vienna! So handsome!

Yes, this is a picture of the gorgeous opera star that was Mephistopheles when I actually saw it in Vienna! So handsome!

 

❤ Me

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(Continuing on with my unedited second grade journal, misspellings and all.)

July 31:

One day Jan went out to recess. She saw lots of things that she could exercise on. First she asked if she could play kickball. They said yes. Jan could play it very good. Then her team won they shouted for joy. then she went jogged on the nacher trail. She saw birds and rabbits. Then she went and played on the jungle gym. She raced kids. But she won every time. “This is fun,” the kids said. So she went to play soccer. “This is fun to,” she said. “Yea,” said the kids. Then suddenly Jan made a goal. Everyone on her team cheerd. Then the bell rang. It sure was a great day. So she went in for spelling.

 

August 4:

My best friends are Resha and Ashley. Resha has black hair. She has brown eyes. We like to play at recess together. Ashley has brownish goldish hair like mine. She has green eyes. I like to go to her house. We have fun together. I let her spend the night on Saturday. On the same night we went to the vipers game together. And I sit with her on the bus. Resha and I write notes to each other. My friends are the best!

 

August 6:

Today is picture day. I got my picture taken. I know I’m going to be pretty. It took a long time for me to get my picture taken. I like to get my picture taken because everyone looks nice. I got to have my own combo. Picture day is fun!

 

August 6:

One day my friends and I were going to her house. Then a bully sneaked up on us and stole her favorite book. When we got to her house my friend looked in her backpack. “Jenna you stole my book,” said my friend. “No I didn’t!” I screamed. “Yes Yes Yes No No No” we said. “You better leave or I’ll call your mom,” said my friend. “Fine I will,” I said. And I stormed out of the house. Later at home I said “I’m never going to play with my friend again,” I said. “Why,” said my mom. “Because my friend said I stole her favorite book and I didn’t,” I said. “Remember that you are a detective? I was thinking if you could probbly solve it,” said my older brother. “okay I will,” I said. So I started down the street. Sudnly I saw a bully with my friends book! I couldn’t belive it! “Stop thief!!” I screamed. “Come and get it,” said the bully. So I ran and ran but the bully got to his hideout befor I got there. I couldn’t find the bully’s hideout. “I’m never going to find it,” I said. Then I saw a sign that said “If your not a bully then keep out.” I read out loud. “Come and get me,” I heard again. Then I sneaked in the window and saw the bully reading the book. “Hand over the book,” I said. The bully was so scared that he ran home. “I’ve done it again,” I said. So I went down the street. On my way back to my friends house I saw my big brother. “So you solved the mystery,” he said. “I have to return the book back,” I said. When I got to her house I said “A bully really did,” I said. “I know I saw him in the newspaper with my book,” My friend said. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry to,” I said. So we went down to the park.

 

(To Be Continued…)

❤ Me

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