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Comment n’être pas coquette?

Gone (from the Met’s Faust) but not forgotten diva Angela Gheorghiu claims that Jonas Kaufmann has expressed to her his dissatisfaction with Des McAnuff‘s direction—which reportedly included an injunction to the tenor to do as he was told and not to question anything. She adds that Kaufmann has assured her she was right to cancel when she did. Yes, in this interview with Naomi Lewin, the word “fiasco” gets thrown around a lot. [WQXR]

  • grisha

    I wonder where all this hatred is coming from. I also wonder how many of you who hate pasionately this new Faust production actually had seen it.

    I heard Angela live a number of times at the MET as well as other venues, and every time she sang she sounded fabulous.
    As far as interview is concerned, BRAVA Angela!!!
    Finally here someone who expresses her real opinion. I just hate reading or hearing interviews with performers who just love everybody and everything. Brava!!!

  • FragendeFrau82

    I just got back from the production tonight and loved it! I have no idea if anything was changed since the prima. Sure, some things weren’t as I would have done them, if I ruled the world, but I was moved and the music and singing were terrific.

    That is all.

  • manou

    More of the same -- with added décolleté:


    She has been doing lots of these interviews (in several languages which she mangles and masters in equal parts) to promote the Callas homage CD and also the release of the Covent Garden Tosca in cinemas worldwide (do see it -- it is everything the hype promises).

    She evidently has absolutely no “is-this-appropriate?-filter” and says anything that crops up in her pretty head, but the fact remains that she is outstanding and a prime candidate for The Diva in excelsis.

  • m. p. arazza

    Didn’t anyone hear Kaufmann’s own critique of the production (to Juntwait) on yesterday’s Rodelinda broadcast? At least that’s what I thought it was, although subtly framed so that one might not have noticed.

    In my rough transcription: “Well, the idea is in general very interesting: Since Faust is a scientist, why wouldn’t he be the scientist who invented the atomic bomb, namely Robert Oppenheimer. The idea is that with the experience of the two bomb drops, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he would wish to either finish his life or get the chance to do better, and it turns out Mephisto appears and gives him this chance. So we’re jumping back in time to before the First World War where probably the whole problem started more or less, which caused also the Second World War and all the consequences -- you can see that on the costumes and everything, but it is very difficult to establish because the thing is: What I’m saying as Faust is not ‘Oh now I’m drawn by morality and I need to go back and I need to do better,’ because Faust is somebody who, it turns out, has no moral limits whatsoever -- because otherwise he wouldn’t go for this girl and he wouldn’t abuse her actually and then let her sit pregnant with that baby and everything. He’s a
    horrible guy -- he uses this chance to just enjoy life one more time, maybe enjoying life in a different way — since he was a scientist he was probably concentrated too much on his science and not on living, and so now he wants to make up for that by just having this excessive orgiastic life -- which makes him anything but sympathetic. So it is difficult to establish those things, because if he wants to do better, then he should behave differently.” [Then moving on to a more general discussion of Faust]

    I haven’t seen the production, but it seemed to me he was explaining why, in his view, the director’s conception contradicts the text and makes little sense.

    • FragendeFrau82

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I was at Rodelinda and unable to hear the interview. My friend and I were then at Faust last night and we did get that sense from JK’s characterization: That Faust is really a “horrible guy”--we even discussed it afterwards, as it was the first Faust for both of us.

      (Good job on the transcription)

    • Clita del Toro

      And what would we do if given another chance at life as a youngish person? Save the world, or; have some “fun”; redo the living room; go to your favorite restaurant or museum; listen to Callas recordings; buy a new car; visit Paris; take a vacation; learn a language; take singing lessons; paint???????

      Leave poor Faust alone? ;=)

      • redbear

        The Paris Faust in September/October was overblown, overdressed (Alagna in gold-lame shirt) and lifeless. It was on TV so there must be clips around. The ENO Faust at least had a point of view. (I was at the opening in London and Gelb, along with the rest of the audience, seemed to enjoy the work. ENO audiences are used to challenges from their stage directors these last few years.)
        Maybe NY would like the Paris Faust? It’s for sale, I hear, and at a very good price.
        Note: will have the Paris Forza del Destino Thursday, I believe.

        • Oh lord, the Paris Faust was directed by Martinoty, right? I saw both of his Vienna Mozart productions and I’ve rarely seen such directionless, confused work. Both featured random catalogs of references from his dramaturg with no guiding idea, combined with utterly rote (and badly timed) blocking.

          I’m not sure if McAnuff’s One Big Idea That Doesn’t Make Any Sense with the same rote (and badly timed) blocking is really an improvement, though.

          • oedipe

            random catalogs of references from his dramaturg with no guiding idea

            I beg to differ. The Martinoty Faust was undoubtedly flawed and insufficiently edited, but it absolutely had a guiding idea and the references made sense if one had a certain degree of familiarity with French culture. The guiding idea was subversion: of religion, of the church, of the elite, of middle class respectability and hypocrisy, etc. etc. Although many people refused to admit it, this was one of the principal reasons this production created a scandal.

            I haven’t seen the McAnuff production, but from what I understand, under its ‘modernist’ appearance it is quite conformist. I call this kind of thing ‘conformist avant-gardism’ and I would take Martinoty instead any day of the week.

  • Orkenise

    the principal reason Martinoty’s production created a scandal -- if it created a scandal -- is that so much money was spent to get such a poor and ugly production (in french “ringarde et moche”) no subversion, where did you see subversion? ok maybe in the end, Marguerite running to the guillotine, and then the head bouncing three meters away, and the big laugh in the public, maybe the best moment of the night, is that supposed to be subversive ? I have a certain degree with french culture and I wonder what references you mean did make sense. There were one or two good ideas -- in act I old Faust looking at young Faust instead of the usual Marguerite (“la jeunesse t’appelle, ose la regarder”) not totally convincing but interesting -- Mephisto putting the jewels on Marguerite. But so many bad ideas, ugly setting, no connections between the characters, all the time so many people on the stage, students in Faust’s lab, priest and altar boys in Marguerite’s house (to give Siebel the holy water), a green elf in the (ugly) garden and so on and so on, difficult to understand what was going on, especially in act II with Mephisto. I felt sorry for the singers! And I wonder if Martinoty copied Mc Anuff’s spiral staircases on both sides of the stage?

    • Orkenise

      this was an answer to oedipe December 5, 2011 at 7:36 PM

      • oedipe


        “Outmoded and ugly” are very subjective notions which, basically, sound entirely “bobo” to me. But if you want to, you can read the comment about the Paris Faust I wrote on Parterre, on the page linked below (comment #47):

        I am sure there will be ample opportunity to compare Martinoty’s and Mc Anuff’s productions on this site, after the Met Faust HD transmission.

  • Orkenise

    thank you for this beautiful review. Martinoty’s Faust seems much more interesting when you tell the story than what we saw at the Opéra Bastille. And bobo is a subjective notion too.