Reviews: Faust - Detroit Opera

Reviews: Faust

Bass Robert Pomakov as Méphistophélès(center) with mezzo-soprano Jenny Anne Flory as Siébel (left) and baritone Ben Reisinger as Wagner (seated) with Detroit Opera Chorus in a scene from Act One of Faust - Credit: Austin Richey / Detroit Opera

 

Learn more about the production here.

Have time to take a quick 1-min survey? Click Here!


 

Nancy

What a wonderful performance. As noted by many reviewers, the music, singing and acting were top notch. Mephistopheles, Valentin, Marguerite and of course Faust grabbed and held my attention the entire time with thrilling vocals. The chorus, the orchestra - all combined to an exciting and moving eperience. Great to come to Detroit and be so splendidly entertained.

Seuby

Overall, a great experience. The leads, Faust, Mephistopheles, and Marguerite, were outstanding. The set was minimalist but adapted well to the sets. The modern setting also worked very well. Really enjoyed this!

Hilda

Delightful but not shallow. Engaging but not condescending. Youthful vibrant wise thoughtful. The staging and sets were spare but they enhanced the production. Singing was enthralling.

David

This was my first time seeing Faust on stage and I loved it… The music and singing were absolutely fantastic… The acting was just wonderful. Truly a beautiful performance by all. While I appreciated them con-temporizing the story, I felt the bare, stark sets and costumes underwhelming. I would have liked something more visual and opulent to match the great performers. Still, overall a truly spectacular evening.

M.B.

The performance was very engaging. It kept my full attention and interest from beginning to end and has become a topic of conversation in my household.

Armando

The DOT's performance of Faust was OUTSTANDING, with magnificent voices and acting. And the chorus was exceptional, as well. This performance rivals any I've seen at the Chicago Lyric Opera, for example. Truly spectacular

HRB

The performance was ok. The orchestra.was excellent. Everything else was underwhelming and fell below expectations.
The delivery of the story was convoluted and weak. Coupled with dismal costumes and a ridiculous cheap stage presentation resulted in a joyless event. Please let this rendition of Faust die.

Leonard

I thought the soloists, orchestra and chorus were all terrific. The sets were pretty ordinary and the production was almost comical, which for a dark and serious opera was unacceptable.

D.D.

We loved the music (kudos to the orchestra!) and the singers (including the chorus), as well as the acting by Mephistopheles. The sets were terrible—uninteresting and strangely dysfunctional, with features like second story doors with no access and a door that wobbled in and out before finally closing with difficulty. The modern casual dress was disappointing and we had hoped for actual dancing to the waltz.

Sarunas

The music was gorgeous, the singing was wonderful, the set was a disappointment. As indicated in the opera talk by the director: "minimal is maximal" is simply not true.

Arthur

The performances were wonderful. The orchestra was superb. The set design was annoying: It looked like someone was trying too hard to make a point, which was ridiculously difficult to watch.

Greg

I really enjoyed the performance! The third act was a bit slow for me but the rest of it was great with some very nice voices and acting. I was not too fond of the set. The two doors above each other distracted me as i was thinking more about how you enter and exit on the top row. The Chorus was fantastic and their scene as clowns, or whatever they were was awesome and unexpected. Orchestra was great as well as some really fine moments from the singers!

Laura

It was a pleasure to see such great performers so perfectly execute the production.

Dan

Great performance!! Top notch talent in a great opera. Sprinkle with a little wit and humor here and there and you have one great evening.

Vanessa

The production was absolutely stunning, with many elements giving a "wow" factor. The performances were excellent.

Joanne

I absolutely loved it. Was skeptical after reading the Freep review, expectations were low and I was blown away by the simplistic aspect of the sets, the lighting, the contemporary clothing, movements, etc. Marguerite was wonderful, Faust a bit a weak at times but when he shined, was terrific. Bravo on the new direction of Faust. Keep up the good work Sharon!!! from a 77 year old woman used to traditional opera!

Michael

Great production in all respects. Made a lot more sense than Faust usually does.
The Wittenberg U chorus attire was a nice touch.

Connie

Loved the music and all of the singers especially the tenor Zach Borichevsky as Faust. The set was very boring.

Anne-Lise

The performance was outstanding, and the orchestra was phenomenal. The contemporary setting was refreshing and creative, demonstrating the timelessness of Faust's themes. It was very funny, engaging, and beautiful.

Maggie

The performance was excellent. Every character was very well done; each had a beautiful voice and acting skills. I was particularly impressed with Robert Pomakov, and Amina Edris was spectacular. Their acting skills and facial expressions added so much to the plot. Edris was my favorite, the star of the production.
I was not impressed with the sets. Very stark and boring. I understand that the emphasis should be on the performers, but the sets should be an enhancement, not a detriment.

Paul

The music, singing and acting were wonderful. Truly a beautiful performance by all. The sets, however, were horrible. Was this an attempt at saving money? I realize the time was of today but the sets were basically a plywood wall and a stockroom ladder. Horrible.

Julie

Wonderful music and performers. But disappointingly sparse, cheap stage setting once again (the recent stage settings are not worthy of a state-of-the-art opera house).
Yet, another classic opera that has been disastrously reworked into a woke campaign. And, A Faust production with no Soldiers’ Chorus…seriously???
Most people who appreciate true opera do not appreciate such paltry adaptations.
If the DOH truly wants to present an “original” production, they should take the time and initiative to write their own piece, not take the lazy way out and butcher an existing classic.

Roman

My history with MOT starts roughly mid 1990's and continued 10 or 12 years with regular attendance and donations but ultimately life got in the way and I drifted away from the beautiful Opera House . This year life improved and with great anticipation I attended La Boheme , some would say the greatest Opera of all time , and what a disappointment that production was . The production had been deconstructed and rearranged to the extent that the intended beauty and purity had been extinguished . Fast forward to last weekend's Faust and yet another corruption of the original intent of a great work of art . It is now apparent to me that the current directors at the helm of MOT have come to the (delusional) conclusion that they are qualified to editorialize some of the greatest works of art ever offered to the public . Excuse me sir(s) , all you have proven is that you have no business attempting to improve upon perfection.

Richard

How disappointing. Based on the minimalistic sets including four doors covered with cheap green paper, one door they were clearly having trouble closing, and based on the cheap costumes of bluejeans, I thought I was sitting in a rehearsal, not even a full dress rehearsal and certainly not a performance for which I paid full price. Also, today's woke directors apparently think they owe no artistic integrity to the original artists' original intent, as this director sought to erase all references to divine power (holy water becomes just washing in nearby faucet water) and a male character is made female in order to impose homosexuality where none existed. Think of it as presenting the Mona Lisa with Groucho Marx glasses, nose, and mustache superimposed and you get the sense of this disastrous performance. Only the music saved it, but you'd have to listen with your eyes closed, which is not the intent of Opera.

Ann

The good news first: The music was glorious, kudos to the orchestra , and the major roles, Faust, Marguerite, Mephistopheles, Valentin were quite wonderful. beautiful voices, subtle phrasing ...quite transporting. The chorus singing was excellent. The bad news: the staging, costumes, and choreography were awful,, amateurish.. I found the overall production insulting : to Gounod, to the talented singers, to me. I have been a subscriber to the Michigan Opera Theatre since its beginning years, and watched its growth as a first class tribute to Detroit. I am n ow so discouraged and disappointed.

Richard

The artist were good the orchestra was excellent everything else was unimaginative and underwhelming.
The Stage setting and wardrobe bordered on the ridiculously mundane and cheap minimalist. I would not recommend this version to anyone.

Simona

The opera “Faust” is one of the favorites of the genre as we know. The music is amazing, the story is exciting.
The Oklahoma production was frustrating and satisfying at the same time.
I guess, I need to go with ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ to make myself clear.
‘Pros’ first:
Great singing
Great acting
Great orchestra
Now, ‘cons’
I think, this is NOT the opera to be ‘planted’ and presented as if the events happen today.
The story by itself was somewhat altered by the composer, Gounod, who was a very religious man, even thinking about becoming a priest at some point of his life. Still not clear why at the end of the story the choir is singing:
Christ has risen again!
Christ is born again! – not clear what exactly prompts that statement.
Goethe, on the other hand, was a moderate liberal in his political views, and his relationship with a religion was somewhat unorthodox for the time. Basically, today he would be a complete atheist. His ending of the story has no mentioning of Christ
When staged in a traditional way, with costumes and the stage set appropriate for the time of the events described in a story, the ‘Christ’ part fit perfectly well.
Presented in a ‘woke’ version this ending sounds insulting: there are multiple religions that exist, more and more people shake off religious beliefs all together, yet we have this glorification of the Christ?
And not just that. The “saved” part. Really? Saved? After poisoning her mother and drowning her child Margaret is saved just because she asked God to save her? Wow! What a great message to potential criminals: kill to your pleasure, just make sure to ask God for forgiveness afterwards. Lovely, isn’t it?
Again, in costumes and set design of 18-19 century this message gets lost into ‘yeah, it’s OK, it’s just a story’. Brought to our days, with snickers and cell phones, this message becomes very wrong.
Siebel. A girl? Common! Yes, traditionally, young man roles in operas were performed by women dressed as men. Siebel is a straight man according to both stories, the poem and the opera. Making him a ‘her’ and lesbian is absurd, it has no point and, honestly, is disturbing. I am a definite supporter and accepter of the LGBTQ community. But there is no place for that in a “Faust” story.
Finally, killing the baby. In a “Faust” story Margaret drowned her child.
In this production Marguerite drinks alcohol to swallow pills and then she appears on stage without her belly and with her skirt and T-shirt covered in blood. What is the director trying to say? That she did a chemical abortion and miscarried as a result? There was a hint at the beginning, when Faust was contemplating suicide by taking pills, to help shaping this kind of thinking. For the director’s information, for such a late term pregnancy, chemical abortion is impossible. Or, was there implication that Marguerite stabbed her baby – thus, baby blanket covered in blood as well – why the skirt is covered in blood then?
Is the director strongly pro-religious and anti-choice person who is trying to insert her personal views into ‘pretend-woke’ frame? Because that was exactly my feeling. And that just did not feel right.
There are some beautiful things that have been created in the past. Changing them is not always a good idea. Changing them the way this production did it could be even harmful.

Keith

I generally don’t care for grand operas staged in a modern setting, but this production of Faust was highly effective. This could be attributed to the fact that the basic story of Faust is universal, but in this case the uniformly superb cast made the show a success, especially the miraculous Amina Edris.
I did not miss the cuts to Act IV, such as the “Soldier’s Chorus.” (I sang in the chorus of a student production of Faust, but I was nineteen, and that chorus then seemed to be the most banal melody ever — outside of Verdi, of course.) Yuval Sharon is right: the 1959 version is better. I also approve that the part of Siébel is no longer a trouser role.
But then, other than the contemporary costumes, it was not exactly a “modern staging,” because there was no scenery. This was the second opera in this year’s series in which the performance took place in front of a plain green wall. (Though this opera featured salvage-yard fluorescent lights.)
I thought it was a nice touch that the students and cheerleaders wore the red-and-white T-shirts of Wittenberg University (named after the Wittenberg University of Germany), so they at least drove down to Springfield, Ohio to buy the costumes. (Although Goethe’s Faust takes place in Leipzig.)
I realize that times are tough for high art in Detroit, but Yuval Sharon’s opera-on-the-cheap is a giant step down from the fabulous sets and costumes we have enjoyed during the directorship of magician David DiChiera. If an opera is sung in front of a background of cardboard boxes, is it still opera?
If The Lion King can be staged a few blocks away at the Fox Theater every bit as grand as it appears on Broadway, why can’t Detroit Opera do the same for the greatest music for the stage?
Or was all this year’s money spent on hiring a management consultant who changed the name of the Michigan Opera Theater?

Robert

Slow going at the beginning. I don’t think this “original” version of Faust is the best. The sets were too large and cheap looking. Last act was very nice.

Richard

How disappointing. Based on the minimalistic sets including four doors covered with cheap green paper, one door they were clearly having trouble closing, and based on the cheap costumes of bluejeans, I thought I was sitting in a rehearsal, not even a full dress rehearsal and certainly not a performance for which I paid full price. Also, today's woke directors apparently think they owe no artistic integrity to the original artists' original intent, as this director sought to erase all references to divine power (holy water becomes just washing in nearby faucet water) and a male character is made female in order to impose homosexuality where none existed. Think of it as presenting the Mona Lisa with Groucho Marx glasses, nose, and mustache superimposed and you get the sense of this disastrous performance. Only the music saved it, but you'd have to listen with your eyes closed, which is not the intent of Opera.

Shannon

Enjoyed the singing and acting. Did not enjoy it being staged in fairly current times. I did not like the "woke" changes. I like classics performed as classics. They were written for that time period. It did nothing for the play as you could not make it better, perform it as it was suppose to be performed.

Robert

Loved it but too long. I got the feeling there was a reason all that extra music was cut a long time ago. I did miss the beautiful scenery that we always associate with your operas. Somebody said it was now "minimal" stuff. If it is, go back to the good stuff. I liked the setting being set in today's era: it made more sense. Loved the "selfie" with the phone part. I was confused with Siebel, thinking perhaps she was a "gay love interest" going after Margarette. I hope that wasn't the case. It certainly wouldn't have been the case in Gounod's era.

Share with friends