What We Feel and What We Mean
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Faust: The Opera

Although I cannot call myself knowledgeable about opera as an art form, I still thought Faust was absolutely incredible. Opera was a completely new experience for me. Up until now, I had seen shows on Broadway and been to concerts, but the opera was still completely foreign to me. Part of me feels like my praise for Faust is overblown, that I enjoyed it so much simply because I had never seen opera before. While this may be somewhat true, I still loved Faust and cannot wait to see another opera.

As an art form, opera is quite obviously very strenuous for those involved. I have a lot of respect for the singers, musicians, and directors who work to put on the show. The singers must show an immense amount of dedication towards their craft to be able to perform like that on a regular basis. The performer that played Mephistopheles, especially, was wonderful. He had charisma, his singing was clear and all eyes were on him whenever he was on stage.

My favorite part of the opera was the ending by far. After the majority of the play featured Marguerite’s demise, I was happy to see her redemption in the eyes of God. The scene of her walking up the stairs to heaven was haunting, with all of the singers in white lab coats chanting about her being saved. The end scene mirroring the first scene was another nice touch by the director in my opinion, showing the story had come full circle.

Besides the opera itself, I am in love with the ambiance of the opera house. Seeing everyone dressed to the nines with champagne glasses in their hands and the plush, red carpet on the floor just gives you the feeling that you are in the presence of something grandiose. The British ushers gave me that feeling as well (why do Americans perceive the British accent as high-class?).

After thinking about the opera for a couple of days (and formulating my own opinion about it), I wanted to see what the critical opinion of it was. I was expecting it to be very different because of my lack of knowledge about opera. What I found was that critics were very harsh about Faust, something I don’t necessarily agree with. A review of Faust in the New York Times says, “The production, though rich with ideas and theatrically daring, is finally rather clinical and oppressive.” I disagree with this vehemently.  Although I do see that at times Faust seemed cold and clinical, for the most part I thought it soared with emotion. Furthermore, the review criticizes the stage layout of the stairs on both sides. I, however, thought it was smart to have it organized like that to facilitate some of the key scenes in the show. This review really demonstrated to me how differently I saw the opera than the reviewer. Here is the link to the opera review: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/01/arts/music/a-review-of-the-metropolitan-operas-faust.html


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