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Premiered in Paris in 1859, Gounods Faust was an instant success and even today remains one of the most popular of all French operas. Its libretto was based on Michel Carrés adaptation of his own stage play Faust et Marguerite, which in turn was loosely fashioned after Goethes two-part tragedy. The staging was entrusted to a visionary director, Stefano Poda (La Stampa). A triumph that will long remain in the annals as one of the most brilliant stagings not only in this theatre but in any of todays opera houses An extraordinary spectacle (ResMusica).
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On the plus side, this is a very well sung performance. Charles Castronovo in the title role is uniformly good; his diminuendo on the high C at the end of "Salut! Demeure chaste et pure..." was superb. Ildar Abdrazakov was an excellent Mephistpheles, being more suave tempter than evil demon. Irina Lungu was a most satisfying Marguerite, although her French enunciation needs work.
But despite the fine efforts of soloists and chorus, orchestra and conductor, the wretched staging of Stefano Poda (whomever he might be) showed a lack of any sensitivity to the compositional aspects of the work: whatever it is, it ain't Faust!
I hope a well staged and sung version emerges, but it probably will not, since Faust is no longer as popular as it once was.