What We Feel and What We Mean
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I Met Faust in a Modern Template.

The opportunity to see the new production premiere of Charles Gounod’s Faust at the Metropolitan Opera was truly a treasure, especially for a musician who has performed in opera productions but has never enjoyed one as an audience member. That night was also the gala premiere and that made the experience even more magical. I entered the Metropolitan Opera House and couldn’t help but notice the starburst chandeliers, made of almost 50,000 Swarovski crystals. They were so brilliant that my eyes were almost straining from their shininess.  Add that to all the men and women dressed in formal suits and evening gowns, sipping on their wine, and socializing with each other. It certainly felt great to be a part of the grandeur.

Although we sat all the way up in the Family Circle, it did not hinder my experience of watching Faust. I was still able to see the stage clearly, and I had a very nice view of the pit orchestra as well. I was in awe at how well the singers’ voices projected throughout the theatre without the use of microphones or some kind of amplification. The Metropolitan Orchestra certainly did an excellent job, but to me, that is no surprise because I know the musicians in that orchestra are at the top of their profession, and nevertheless to say that they work with one of the most acclaimed and respected music directors, James Levine.

Besides the different time setting of the entire opera, I also liked how they incorporated different technology and special effects to make this interpretation more modern and interesting. The sparks definitely caught my attention and probably everyone else’s. The characters’ faces such as of Faust and Marguerite on the big screen right after and before every scene began were new touches and approaches to the opera. Personally, they gave me an eerie feeling.

I really appreciated the subtitles that were so conveniently in front of me. I’m not sure if I would have really understood the opera well without the subtitles even though I was informed of the plot beforehand.

Last but not least, I would always prefer seeing a live performance than a broadcast of it any day because the experience of watching the same show through two different mediums is so different. As Maria Callas, one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century, once said, “An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life after I’ve left the opera house.”


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