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Gounod: Faust


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Editorial Reviews

Angela Gheorghiu Stars As Marguerite In David McVicar's Spectacularly Innovative 2004 Production Of Gounod's Faust For London's Royal Opera House

Angela Gheorghiu stars as Marguerite alongside a divine cast of operatic superstars, including Roberto Alagna, Bryn Terfel, Simon Keenlyside and Sophie Koch, in David McVicar's spectacular 2004 production of Gounod's best known opera, Faust, for the Royal Opera House in London. This production was the Royal Opera Company's first performance of Gounod's Faust in 18 years.

Gounod's Faust is the story of a scholar who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for unlimited knowledge and worldly indulgences. McVicar's innovative production sets this story around the time of the Franco-Prussian War (1870) in the gothic, seamy underbelly of Paris. He characterizes Faust, performed by Roberto Alagna, as a man both torn between the theater and religion, and grappling with his own sexuality.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Bryn Terfel, Simon Keenlyside, Sophie Koch
  • Directors: David McVicar, Sue Judd
  • Writers: Charles Gounod
  • Producers: Royal Opera House, Ross MacGibbon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: French (DTS 5.1), French (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French, English, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Classics
  • DVD Release Date: October 5, 2010
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003Y58CKI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,411 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Giles Bernard J. Hall on October 20, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Gounod wrote some wonderful music and I believe he has never been treated seriously. One example is his opera "Faust". It contains within its pages some of the most exquisite music ever written. Some production do leave you a little nonplus. But this production from the Royal opera house Covent Garden, really blew me away. The staging is incredible and then there is the cast.
Robert Alagna makes and incredible Faust & brought down the house with his first aria, and what better Méphistophélès could you have than the immortal Bryn Terfel. You have to see him to believe it. Then there is Alagna's beautiful wife, Angela Gheorghiu as the delicate Marguerite, beautifully sung and acted. Not to mention the best baritone on earth, Simon Keenleyside as Valentin. What a man, what a voice. Sophie Koch makes for a great Siebel, but I can not understand why they had her limping during the performance, quite off putting, but lovely voice. Then there is one of the best mezzo's on the planet, Della Jones. I love this woman and always have since I first heard her when she recorded for `Opera Rara', what a voice. It's a pity that her role as Marthe was never expanded, so we could hear more of that great voice.
The production is phenomenal, the staging exemplary and it is complete with the ballet. This you have to see: I am not going to say any more about the ballet. Easy the best production of Faust I have ever witnessed and Covent Garden should be extremely proud of it.
So! What are you waiting for! Get out there and purchase it, you won't be sorry. I cannot endorse this production of Faust enough.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Charles Beck on October 31, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This DVD recording of Gounod's Faust is based on a 2004 production from the Royal Opera House. It is certainly an improvement over the offensive 1985 production directed by Ken Russell for the Vienna State Opera (see my review). In this production, the three lead singers, Alagna as Faust, Gheorghiu as Marguerite, and Bryn Terfel as Mephistopheles, are in top voice and their acting is also convincing. If based solely on the vocal and acting qualities, this production probably deserves at least four stars. Alagna is especially dramatic in portraying the transition from an aging to a revitalized Faust. When have you experienced a young Faust, let alone a tenor, who turns a cartwheel after discovering his youth has returned? Gheorghiu successfully portrays both the lyrical and the deranged Marguerite. Terfel has a fine voice but lacks the bass resonance and mischievous sound that the late Nicolai Ghiaurov brought to the role. Sophie Koch portrays a very lively and lovesick Siebel, and Simon Keenlyside, although a bit stiff in his portrayal, conveys Marguerite's righteous and protective brother, Valentin.

While opera is first and foremost a vocal experience, it also has a strong visual dimension, especially with the intimate close ups provided on DVD's. The stage settings and costumes become an integral part of the experience. Changing or updating original opera settings seems to be a popular and often inappropriate trend among current stage directors. It may work as long as the altered staging and costumes don't distract from the story or the vocal atmosphere that the composer had in mind. In this production, cabaret Paris takes the place of Medieval Germany, the relocation works reasonably well with a few notable exceptions.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By David Bower VINE VOICE on October 15, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of the opera Faust for over 60 years and for the last 30 or so years of that period have not owned a recording of the opera. It's not to say that I haven't been looking but had simply not found one that I wanted to take a chance on.

When I discovered this recording, done at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, I decided to take a chance on it and hope for the best. I have just finished watching Act 5 and am wildly enthusiastic about this recording. The sound in DTS 5.1 is flawless, the high definition video recording is crisp and clear and the soloists, chorus, and orchestra all turn in stellar performances. I was literally moved to tears at a number of points as the opera progressed. It was such a joy to hear those familiar melodies which I knew so well from the past performed again with power and emotion!

The two DVD set includes a booklet which offers a summary of the production and a brief synopsis of the 5 acts. Yes, it does include the ballet sequence which was added in 1869, ten years after its first production. The ballet sequence as performed here adds interesting ambience to the opera and helps define the depraved nature of Mephistopheles. The opera is sung in French but offers subtitles in many languages including English.

This is truly an opera in the grand tradition; if you enjoy grand opera beautifully produced, directed, and performed then you should be pleased with this recording.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By John G. Gleeson Sr. on May 30, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
My love of Gounod's Faust dates back to 1964, when, newly married, I introduced my wife to Verdi and she introduced me to Faust. Both loves have lasted for 47 years, I'm happy to say. As I recollect, I have seen Faust twice onstage, and have several recordings, the first of which feattured the awesome combination of Gedda, De Los Angeles and Christoff. But I yearned for a DVD, because, after all, opera is meant to be seen as well as heard: it's theatre.

The discs previously available simply did not interest me, and the reviews underscored the fact that they were seriously flawed.

So it was a "no brainer" to jump on this one when it came out, and it remains one of the best operas on my shelf. It is not only splendid from a vocal perspective, but from a dramatic one as well.

One example: when Faust is transformed from an old man to a young one, Alagna first feels his face in amazement, and then does cartwheels onstage. I cannot imagine a better dramatization of his exuberance than that!

Faust is a role that fits Alagna's spinto tenor voice perfectly, and being a French speaker, his diction is perfect. Similarly, Ms. Georghiu's lyric soprano is tailor made for the role of Marguerite, and it shows, consistantly. Both are vibrant stage presences, so the acting is also consistantly well above average for opera.

Bryn Terfel sings the role of Mephistopheles as well as one could wish, but it appears that the stage director declined to make him really ... well, "devilish". The only time he really gets into that aspect of the character is in Act I when Faust, having second thoughts about all this, tells him to beat feet: "Va t'en!' Then Terfel gets really into character with a "Don't mess with Mr. Bad!" look.
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subtitles
I believe I read in one review that it is sung in French, but subtitled in English. I had wondered about that myself as well. I plan to buy this DVD, and will post an update to my post when I know for sure about the subtitles
Oct 26, 2010 by Gerald C. |  See all 2 posts
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