Jonathan Pell, Summer of Opera, Part 18

by Megan Meister

Last night was a new production of FAUST, staged by Stephen Lawless, who has directed several productions in Dallas since his US debut with the company in 1991.  It was cleverly updated to the middle of the 19th century (the time of its composition) and    brimming  with interesting ideas about the conflict between good and evil, God and Satan, and salvation and damnation.

The production starred Bryan Hymel in the title role.  Bryan is slated to arrive in Dallas next month  to start rehearsals for TDO’s opening production of LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, which will be his TDO debut. He was simply wonderful  in the demanding role of “Faust” and so I have very high expectations for what he will bring to “Edgardo” in our LUCIA.

Opposite him was Ailyn Perez, who won the audience’s heart as the vulnerable “Marguerite” in a deeply touching and superbly sung performance.   For Dallas audiences who only know her from her sly and sexy “turn” as “Zerlina” in TDO’s DON GIOVANNI last season, this stunning performance may have come as a surprise.

Last night  also happened to be Ailyn’s birthday, so she was actually giving the audience a present instead of the usual way around !

Jennifer Holloway,  who sang both “Cherubino” and “Dorabella” in Dallas, was the excellent “Siebel” and was completely believable as an adolescent boy.

Well conducted by Santa Fe’s new chief conductor Frederic Chaslin, it was a delightful evening at the opera,  and is a production likely to be seen in other theatres.  I ran into representatives from the Canadian Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia, so I suspect that they might be considering borrowing the production in future seasons.

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