Lyric Opera Presents FAUST Review – Gorgeous Sights and Sounds

Lyric Opera Presents FAUST

Gounod’s Faust, based on Goethe’s work about a man who makes a deal with the devil, imagines how such a partnership could aid its protagonist in the wooing of a beautiful woman, Margueritte. Staged by Kevin Newbury at the Lyric Opera, Faust is an aural and visual feast, even if aspects of its execution are at times overwhelming.

Faust as Artist

In Goethe’s original, the character of Faust (Benjamin Bernheim) is generally an old philosopher who realizes that his quest for knowledge has been mostly futile. Desperate for a second chance at youth, he trades his soul to Mephistopheles (Christian Van Horn) in a deal that allows him to re-experience the pleasures of life he missed out on. In Newbury’s production, Faust is an artist, whose art--inspired by John Frame--has failed to provide him the meaning he had hoped it would. Frame’s art is brought to life in inventive projections which envelop the stage, combining sculpture and stop motion with the actors on stage, some in elaborate masks.

Lyric Opera Presents FAUST
Benjamin Bernheim as Faust at his work bench.
FAUST
Lyric Opera Presents FAUST
Lyric Opera Presents FAUST
Lyric Opera Presents FAUST
Lyric Opera Presents FAUST
Lyric Opera Presents FAUST

Top-Notch Talent in Lyric’s Opera

In his American debut, Bernehim is exceptional, effortlessly imbuing Gounod’s lyrics with emotion and skill. The same can be said for the prowess on display from Van Horn as Mephistopheles and Ailyn Perez as Marguerite, whose baritone and soprano voices filled the Lyric’s grand auditorium beautifully. While English supertitles assist in the storytelling by translating the characters’ French, the emotional subtext behind every note is crystal clear as performed by the cast.

Lyric Opera Presents FAUST
Lyric Opera Presents FAUST

Gorgeous Visuals Abound in Faust

John Frame’s visual work is an interesting layer to add to the story of Faust and certainly makes for a richly designed production; however, for this reviewer, a newcomer to Gounod’s take on the tale, at times it distracted from the action on stage. Even so, when combined with Gounod’s beautifully orchestrated opera (expertly conducted by Emmanuel Villaume), the shadowy, textured lighting and towering scaffolds and structures make for an entrancing experience. Equally lavish are Vita Tzykun’s costumes, which feature bright pops of color--an orange plaid for Mephistopheles and a greenish-blue plaid for Faust. Overall, the design is as textured and detailed as the performances on stage.

Abundant in concept and beautiful performances, Lyric’s Faust is a detailed, sensory experience. While the shadowy nature of its visuals at times obfuscated the storytelling for this reviewer, opera lovers and neophytes alike will no doubt find much to like in this gorgeously produced opera.

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Where

Lyric Opera of Chicago
20 N Upper Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL

When

Thru March 21st

March 6th, 9th, 12th, and 15th at 7:30pm
March 18th and 21st at 2:00pm

Tickets

$17-$242

For tickets and more information, visit the Lyric Opera website.

Photos

Photos taken by Cory Weaver and Andrew Cioffi.

About the Author
Brent Ervin-Eickhoff is a director, writer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. He has worked with A Red Orchid Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co., The Public House Theatre, and other storefront theatres as a director, assistant director, and in a variety of artistic capacities. Brent served as Co-Artistic Director and is currently the Managing Director of Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble, of which he was a founding member. His productions of Herculaneum and Bison? Bison. Bison! with Blue Goose were praised by critics and audiences. Bison? Bison. Bison! was selected and performed as part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks Initiative. An award-winning filmmaker, Brent’s films have screened as part of the Frog Baby Film Festival and Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project. His play Puget Sound was workshopped as a staged reading as part of A Red Orchid Theatre’s Incubator Program in 2017. Brent graduated from Ball State University Magna Cum Laude with degrees in Directing and Theatre Education, as well as Ball State’s prestigious Academic Honors in Writing.
 

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