Thomas R. Sprint in Ladies’s Put on Day by day:
Not all of the brilliance on the Metropolitan Opera opening final evening was within the flashing jewels of the fashionables who make that is event to glitter. To a plebian impervious to bejeweled tiaras, there was even higher brilliance on the stage and within the pit.
Right here, competing with the bedlam of the lorgnette set, the Metropolitan offered a brand new manufacturing of Gounod’s immortal “Faust.” With the youthful and imaginative British stage director Peter Brook restaging the work within the romantic nineteenth Century period as a substitute of the mustier sixteenth Century, with Rolf Gerard furnishing stage décor to suit the brand new interval setting, with the singers rendering the famed arias in matchless type, and with Pierre Monteux casting a magic spell along with his baton, it was certainly an event to please the musical devotees.
From the perspective of showmanship and stagecraft this can be a “Faust” of many moods and plenty of aspects. It’s homosexual and merry within the scenes of revelry, romantic within the interludes of lovemaking, bitterly mocking and sardonic when Mephisto plots his diabolical schemes, martial when the troopers return from the wars, sacred when the invocation of the Heavenly Energy makes the Prince of Darkness quail and cringe, Always it’s capital lyric theatre – very important, dynamic, pulsing with the numerous feelings enkindled. Rudolf Bing’s religion in Peter Brook ought to yield inventive dividends.
Gerard’s settings make the manufacturing theatrically alive. The cluttered studio of the aged thinker Faust, the Kermesse scene with its homosexual carnival trappings, the road setting for “The Soldier’s Refrain” with tiers of steps assembly at odd angles, the hazy Inferno scene with Mephisto serving as Faust’s cicerone, the solemn church scene and even the jail scene when the doleful Marguerite lies anguished, abandoned and mad on her pallet of straw are bodily attributes that give the brand new manufacturing the right temper and propel it to the opera’s tragic end result.
Though Pierre Monteux is just about a boy prodigy – he’s solely 76 in contrast with Toscanini’s 87 – the conductor will get all of the luster out of Gounod’s bejeweled rating. By no means on this auditor’s listening to, did the orchestral music have extra limpid grandeur, extra lucid phrasing. Right here is true constancy at its finest.
The singers, too, are magnificent. The Met launched a brand new bass, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, who portrays Mephisto. He isn’t a booming basso profundo. Classify him, if you happen to like, as a lyrical basso. He has an easy type of supply. He by no means strains or forces his tones; his reserve and musicianship are excellent. He shines notably within the rollicking “Calf of Gold” tune and once more in his snarling, sneering tune when the demon mocks Marguerite, accompanying himself on the guitar. Mr. Rossi-Lemeni is an achieved actor who is aware of his approach a couple of stage. He’s dominant, devilish, Iagoish, sardonic – all on the proper time. This isn’t a cloven-hoof satan. Mephisto is a sartorial gallant, dressed impeccably in a crimson lined opera cape, formal garments, excessive hat and swirling a stick.
Jussi Björling has a tenor voice that approaches the glory of the violin in its purest tones. His performing, nonetheless, is considerably stiff and confined to standard gestures. Lyrically, his Faust is good; histrionically, he lacks the scope to make Faust and spectacular character.
Vocally, Victoria de los Angeles is a radiant Marguerite. Sitting on the spinning wheel she renders the well-known “Ballad of the King of Thule” with affecting tonal magnificence, and her aria of the “Jewel Tune” is enchanting.
On this present day in 1926 the US premiere and first Metropolitan Opera efficiency of Puccini’s Turandot.
On this present day in 1908 conductor Arturo Toscanini made his Metropolitan Opera debut.
On this present day in 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music opened on Broadway.
On this present day in 1981 Stephen Sondheim‘s Merrily We Roll Alongside opened on Broadway.