People Die For Gold

Yes, they do die for gold, but not in Arrigo Boito's version of Goethe's Faust. Boito's opera Mefistofele was performed on September 20, 2013 at the War Memorial Opera House. The cast included Ildar Abdrazakov as Mefisto, Patricia Racette as Margherita, Ramon Vargas as Faust, Marina Harris as Elena, Erin Johnson as Marta, Renee Rapier as Pantalis, Chuanyue Wang as Wagner and Nereo. Nicola Luisotti conducted the performance.

The production was very colorful and exciting, compensating the grayness of the music. Boito's opera morphed the story of Faust a teensy bit, and most of the action happened backstage. The opera is led mostly by Mefisto singing and Faust coming in at times. The best music was during the choral scenes. I, personally, enjoyed the chorus of angels at the very end the most. I didn't, although, enjoy the end plot-wise. In Gounod's Faust, Faust was not forgiven at the end; he had to follow Mefistofele to Hell, while Margherita was forgiven and went to Heaven. I like that conclusion more than the one with both of them being forgiven. When Gounod's Faust was over I had the impression that I just watched a drama. When Boito's Mefistofele was over I had the impression that I just watched a drama giocoso, but with a happy ending.

I was 150% sure that Mr. Vargas would get another allergy attack, but he didn't. I enjoyed his singing very much. His shrilling high tenor brought to the role of Faust the feeling of somebody theoretically in love, but miserable at the same time.

Mr. Abdrazakov was a very fervent Mefistofele. Part of this image was created by the costumes he was wearing. Not exactly what I had imagined Satan to look like, but neither is Mefistofele in a suit and tie. His singing was very exhilarating and sounded great with Mr. Vargas' voice.

Ms. Racette did not sing enough, I thought. Margherita is supposed to be the prima donna; but in Mefistofele she only sang in two scenes. And there was no action with her. All of the exciting parts were explained to the audience during her prison aria, after she had gone mad.

I enjoyed the production, but the music did not suit me very well. I expected more action. But everything else was very well done and I loved it!

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Written by: Rubina Mazurka    

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