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La Damnation De Faust

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 16, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Michael Myers - Marie-Ange Todorovitch - Alain Vernhes - Choeur Philharmonique Slovaque - Orchestre National de Lille , dir. Jean-Claude Casadesus
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 16, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Naxos Opera
  • ASIN: B000F6YWXA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,681 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Hector Berlioz (1803 -- 1869) composed his "legende dramatique" (usually performed as a concert opera) "La Damnation de Faust" in 1846, incorporating substantial material he had composed much earlier. Berlioz' "Damnation of Faust" is based upon Goethe's "Faust" with the composer writing his own liberetto in French. Berlioz' work is a sweepingly romantic composition in four parts for three major soloists and large orchestra and chorus. Berlioz music tells the story of an aging scholar, Faust, tired and bored with life who wants to restore his youth and enthusiasm. He is tempted by Mephistopheles and sells his soul to save the beautiful woman, Marguerite, that Mephistopheles has found for him. The theme and the music are prototypical romantic and flamboyant Berlioz. But in addition to its deep romanticism, Berlioz' opera was heavily influenced by Gluck, Berlioz' great model, and the eighteenth century reformer of opera. As did his celebrated predecessor, Berlioz tried to fuse together music and drama in his operatic works to create an integrated whole.

Berlioz' large-scale works are difficult to record well, but this live Naxos recording, dating from November, 2003, in Lille, France is outstanding. Jean Claude Casadesus conducts the Orchestra National de Lille with the Slovak Philharmonic Choir performing the varied choral scenes. Tenor Michael Myers is a lyrical and passionate Faust, baritone Alain Vernhes a sardonic and evil Mephistopheles, and mezzo-soprano Marie-Ange Todorovitch a beautiful Marguerite. The liner notes include a detailed synopsis of the work but no liberetto.
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Format: Audio CD
I can't understand why the previous reviewer oversold this live Damnation de Faust from 2003 -- it's provincial in every way, from the tremulous, nervous Faust daunted by his high-flying role to conductor Jean-Claude Casadesus's routine, underpowered conducting. You'll rarely hear a blander reading of a score that has brought out the best in Myun-Whun Chung and Igor Markevitch. I mention those two becasue their performances are quinessentially Gallic. This one is, too, but at a much lower voltage, not to mention mediocre talent. Only an edgy, sardonic Mephistopheles makes the listener sit up, and he can't carry the whole evening.
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