All in all, the performance was not one of the notable or memorable concerts that this fine group has demonstrated under Neiweem in the past.
They will present Parts II and III of Messiah in May 2009.
The fourth installment of operas from the Met in H.D. took place at Cinema 9 Nov. 22 (I'm not certain of the capacity of Cinema 3 in which the viewing took place, but 157 ticketholders saw the performance according to the young lady of home I made inquiry.)
Although the work presented, La Damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz, has enjoyed a long history of concert performances, it is seldom staged. This production, the joint creative venture of James Levine, conductor, and Robert Lepage, mise en scene, had moments of transcendence, and at least one moment that was far from transcendent.
Tenor Marcello Giordani, a competent tenor but hardly inspired, had one moment that I bet he wishes wasn't photographed: his reaching for two of the highest notes in the part, and being charitable, let us say he almost didn't make them, but he did manage to make quite a face.
Susan Graham had all of the proper ideas and local control in place as Marguerite, the young woman whom Faust seduces, simultaneously giving her a potion to put her mother to sleep so she will not wake up while they are together. Because, however, thus fails to show up again and again, the cumulative effect of the potion is the death of Marguerite's mother, for which she is thrown into prison, and for whom there is absolution.
John Relyea was a brilliant Mephistopheles, singing his Song of the Flea and his scurrilous talent outside Margarita's house with great relish, and driving forward the action. He was a gifted actor as well as the possessor of a great bass voice.
Scenic effects were very magical, especially the firefly section. The use of honeycomb-type staging must be much on the minds of the stage directors at the Met, because their production of Dr. Atomic utilized a similar device. The orchestra under Levine played with all the grace, beauty and force that one has come to expect from Levine and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
All in all: a great performance.
Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for the Times Sentinel. His column appears weekly.