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Review of Swansea City Opera’s Faust

FaustTo celebrate its tenth anniversary, Swansea City Opera is on tour with a fantastic new production of Faust by Charles-Francois Gounod.

Set in the Victorian era, this fresh interpretation draws on Gothic influences to re-tell Goethe’s epic tale of a man who sells his soul to the devil in return for youth and eternal life, and faces the consequences.

With its tantalising blend of romance, intrigue and a whiff of fire and brimstone, Faust was hugely popular in its heyday, and became a regular feature at Covent Garden every season between 1893 and 1911.

Widely regarded as a musical masterpiece, highlights of the opera, sung in an English translation, include the rousing Soldiers’ Chorus, Méphistophélès’s brash ‘Song of the Golden Calf’, and Marguerite’s dazzling Jewel Song.

The set design conjures up a Victorian city slum, and costumes designed by Gabrielle Ingram follow the “Goth” theme with predominantly dark colours and steampunk-style embellishments.

In line with the company’s aim to make opera more accessible to all, local choirs across the country have been invited to take part in bringing key scenes to life.

During the UK tour, audiences will have the opportunity to attend a free pre-performance talk by Swansea City Opera’s Artistic Director Brendan Wheatley, on the dramatic impact of Gounod’s music and the challenges of creating a new production for the stage.

Review by Angela Lord

Sung in English, this dark Gothic tale follows the fortunes of Faust, who weary of life, is contemplating suicide when he encounters Méphistophélès (the Devil). Faust agrees to exchange his soul for eternal youth and the fulfilment of his hedonistic wishes. The resulting journey balances romance and temptation; and is widely regarded as a magical and tuneful masterpiece, based on Goethe’s dramatic poem Faust, one of the great works of European Literature.

This is rare opportunity to see Gounod’s finest work, regarded by many as a master class in operatic dramatic structure. Historically Faust was one of the most famous and performed of all operas, including being chosen to be the first opera to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York whilst at Covent Garden it was heard every season between 1863 and 1911.This production is set in the decadent Victorian Gothic era with elegant costumes designed by Gabriella Ingram and will be performed by some of the finest singers and orchestral players in the country. Thanks to funding from ACE and ACW we are also teaming up with fine local choirs (see link opposite) to supplement our core of professional choristers. Our thanks go to them for undertaking the project so enthusiastically and professionally.

Touring to 20 theatres through the UK, audiences can discover more about the importance of design in staging an opera with our free pre-performance talks when Brendan Wheatley, Swansea City Opera’s Artistic Director, talks about the drama of Gounod’s music and creating a new production for the stage.
Further information and tour dates here:
http://swanseacityopera.com/productions/faust/

Conductor: John Beswick
Director & Set design: Brendan Wheatley
Costume design: Gabriella Ingram
Photography by Guy Harrop – http://www.guyharrop.com/

Cast & Biographies
Marguerite – Rebecca Goulden
Marguerite – Angharad Morgan
Doctor Faust – Alberto Sousa
Doctor Faust – Ben Kerslake
Méphistophélès – Mark Saberton
Valentin – Håkan Vramsmo
Siébel – Alexandra Cassidy
Marthe Schwerlein – Caroline Carragher
Wagner – Ricardo Panela

Creative
Musical Director – John Beswick
Director – Brendan Wheatley
Chorus – Choirs

Friday 27th February 2015

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