Faust himself is a thoroughly unlikeable character. For the sake of Marguerite, the object of his affections, we hope things work out – but certainly don’t feel bad for him when it all goes awry.

This extravagant Sir David McVicar production played in Sydney in 2015, with Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Mephistopheles. He’s still a master manipulator, but this time Rhodes’ devil is darker, vocally and in characterisation. He’s ominous and fearful, his bass-baritone with seemingly more depth than usual.

Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu is nothing short of incredible … the best tenor Opera Australia has delivered us this season.

As Faust, Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu is nothing short of incredible. He soared with technically faultless high notes, pouring forth without a hint of strain. The protege of Pavarotti is certainly the best tenor Opera Australia has delivered us this season.

Pavarotti's protege Saimir Pirgu well and truly lives up to expectations as Faust.

Pavarotti’s protege Saimir Pirgu well and truly lives up to expectations as Faust.Credit:Jeff Busby

Much of the foyer talk about Kazakh soprano Maria Mudryak focused on how absurdly young she is to be singing Marguerite. And while she can sing it – with bursts of brilliance – it was an uneven performance. Mudryak’s soft singing sounded unsupported and without vibrato, so she was difficult to hear when not at full volume. But she is only 25. It begs the question: she’s young and beautiful, but just because she can sing it, does that mean she should right now?

Of the smaller roles, perfect pants-mezzo Anna Dowsley could slot in on any of the world’s best stages and sing Siebel. With believable boyish charisma and a balanced, glossy voice, she’s also slenderer and taller than most of the men.

Anna Dowsley, playing Siebel, would be at home on any international stage.

Anna Dowsley, playing Siebel, would be at home on any international stage.Credit:Jeff Busby

The production is grand and gorgeous, with superb dancers and ever-excellent chorus. Guillaume Tourniaire leads Orchestra Victoria with sensitivity and flair through Gounod’s exquisite score. With Teddy as a temptress and an unforgettable tenor in the lead role, this Faust is a bet worth taking for any opera lover.

Until December 7.



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