[Met Performance] CID:208250
Faust {604} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/20/1966.

(Debut: Tania Karina
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
October 20, 1966


FAUST {604}
Gounod-Barbier/Carré

Faust...................Gianni Raimondi
Marguerite..............Mirella Freni
Méphistophélès..........Giorgio Tozzi
Valentin................Sherrill Milnes
Siebel..................Marcia Baldwin
Marthe..................Shirley Love
Wagner..................Russell Christopher
Dance...................Sally Brayley
Dance...................Patricia Heyes
Dance...................Tania Karina [Debut]
Dance...................Diana Levy
Dance...................Nira Paaz
Dance...................Ivan Allen
Dance...................Donald Mahler
Dance...................Howard Sayette

Conductor...............Georges Prêtre

Production..............Jean-Louis Barrault
Stage Director..........Bodo Igesz
Designer................Jacques Dupont
Choreographer...........Flemming Flindt

Faust received ten performances this season.

Review of Harriett Johnson in the New York Post

Freni Sings Marguerite in "Faust"

As Marguerite is the most dimensional of Gounod's people in "Faust," she must be more than face, figure and voice. Mirella Freni, young Italian soprano, who sang the role last night at the Metropolitan Opera, has all of these qualities, yet she was herself more than Marguerite, more 20th century than 16th.

This was the first "Faust" in the new house, and Miss Freni's initial appearance as the tender heroine who starts out shy and innocent but by the end of the opera has learned what Faust never does: to quote stage director Jean-Louis Barrault's words, "the sublimation of the heart, and the reinvestment of suffering."

Miss Freni's teased pompadour wig was not chic enough for Vogue, not chaste enough for Goethe and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. After the jewel song she was more boldly than innocently joyous.

Her singing was appealing; and her jewel song had admirable rhythmic flair. But her high voice sometimes had an opaque timbre that dissipated its clarity and brilliance.

Trio of Frenchmen Intact

The trio of Frenchmen who contributed to this "Faust," new last year, were intact. That is to say, along with Barrault's production, Jacques Dupont's sets and costumes, Georges Pretre was again on hand in the pit. The sheer color, drama and sound from the orchestra were exciting. Yet on the whole the performance didn't communicate as it had.

Bodo Igez, stage director, probably didn't have the time to succeed as Barrault had for the production's premiere. Also the chorus was ragged. Pretre's timing sometimes slow; he had a certain rigidity with the singers and the lighting was less dramatic than last season.

Yet the living pictures Barrault made of the chorus remain unforgettable. Dupont's sets have great imagination and Flemming Flindt's "Walpurgis Night" ballet is tremendously effective as la dolce vita if you understand what Barrault and Flindt are interpreting.

Of the other performances, Giorgio Tozzi's Mephistopheles, his first at the Met, was strikingly professional in the acting. He gave the devil his malevolent vaudevillian personality but with Lord Chesterfield's suavity and a dancer's suppleness. He made a wicked, stunning figure. Though he sang well, his voice was brighter than in previous years; not so rich or velvety.

Gianni Raimondi, another Met "first" as Faust, had enough voice to make those difficult climaxes ring with virility and assurance. There were times when his quality was pinched.

Sherrill Milnes' excellent young baritone and his handsome appearance were familiar and welcome as Valentin. Marcia Baldwin was admirable as Siebel, also Shirley Love in her first Met Marthe.



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