FAUST – At SF Opera through July 1st

Some go this way . . . Some go that way

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera’s production of FAUST is as good as it gets. It is up to par with all the elements that make for a successful realization of an opera fraught with problems and one that the composer himself was never completely happy with. Any company producing it – and praying to see its alloted budget fly into the black bordered profit margin – must first decide which scenes to cut, including a ballet in Act V now assigned (sans dancers) to Halloween symphony programs. This current arrangement comes in at three hours and 45 minutes, the length of Gone with the Wind. Still, more than 150 years after its initial debut, Faust remains consistently on the boards, due largely to a number of its popular arias and ensembles. This production measures up to production challenges – particularly in the use of recycled scenery – and, with its principals and chorus, to a close-enough fulfillment in the vocal department. The cast is an odd assemblage. Some will notice the heroine “Marguerite” (Patricia Racette) rather beyond the ingenue stage and her hell-bent lover “Faust” (Stefano Secco) as not-the-tallest guy in dance class.

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STEFANO SECCO and PATRICIA RACETTE

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DANIELA MACK and BRIAN MULLIGAN

Baritone Brian Mulligan makes an impressive debut as “Valentin” and Daniela Mack in the trouser role of “Siebel” enjoys the re-insertion of the Act IV aria, “Se le bonheur a sourire t’invite”. With more than thirty roles at SF Opera, mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook delivered a splendid performance as “Marthe”.

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Catherine Cook, Patricia Racette, and Steffano Secco

Bass-baritone John Relyea is the product of both the Adler Fellows and the Merola Opera Program and in 2009 received the coveted Beverly Sills Award. His resounding vocals, handsome features, and fine acting skills make him the perfect “Méphistophélès”. He has appeared in the role at the Metropolitan and Lyric Opera of Chicago and taken on the version by Berlioz, La Damnation de Faust. No doubt, Mr. Relyea will enjoy a long-lived career with this character. The price of his devilish attributes. His compelling fallen angel will be consigned to the depths of Gounod’s hellish score for what may only seem like an eternity.

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JOHN RELYEA (Méphistophélès)

Click here to purchase tickets on-line:
Wednesday, June 16th, 7:00 pm
Sunday, June 20th, 1:30 pm
Wednesday, June 23rd, 7:00 pm
Saturday, June 26th, 1:30 pm
Thursday, July 1st, 7:00 pm

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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