What a diabolically decadent yet divine production this is, featuring the age-old battleground of good and evil, of satanic temptation and moral decrepitude, in which the aging Faust surrenders his soul for youthful pleasures.
The ring-master is the malevolent, omnipresent, shape-shifter devil Méphistophélès. Teddy Tahu Rhodes fills this role superbly, with his mellifluous voice and precise French pronunciation.
Costume designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel fits him out as a satanic chameleon who appears in many guises such as a scruffy soldier, a musketeer, and even a transsexual/transvestite in the last act.
Russian soprano Irina Lungu took the role of Marguerite to soaring vocal heights, while the Italian tenor Ivan Magri lent his seductive skills to the role of Faust.
While Paule Constable’s lighting was meant to portray gaslight and subterranean Paris, the lux levels were less than optimal at times, with minimal distinction between matutinal and nocturnal periods.
This was especially noticeable during the Jewel Song, when the tempting box of, no doubt, sparkling jewels was not visible; nor was Marguerite’s facial expression on her discovery of the treasure trove.
Anna Dowsley filled the role of Siébel wonderfully, but she didn’t stand out on stage, again because of the dim lighting.
Until Mar 11. Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney. $48-$369+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
Reviewed by Irina Dunn