Gounod's Faust at the
Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Angela Hewitt at Zankel Hall, New York.

The Metropolitan Opera has had a long relationship with Gounod’s once popular opera Faust, beginning with its first night in 1883 and coming up so often thereafter that the house was dubbed the Faustspielhaus. The Met has had far less success with Faust recently, in part because the opera’s vocal and dramatic charms have withered—although a Peter Brook production in 1953 woke the audience by moving the action to the nineteenth century. This device was repeated by the production which debuted on April 21, directed by Andrei Serban and designed by Santo Loquasto.

The piece’s historical moment mattered less than the intent of the creators, for Serban (as is typical with him) saw this exercise in tunefulness and charm as an excuse for spectacle, cluttering the...


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