Strange Faust yesterday. The production was updated to sometime between the two world wars. That was a big obstacle for me; I missed the medievalness of the legend. But once I resigned myself to that near-contemporary setting, I have to admit it was one helluva production. Steel scaffolding framed the stage, with spiral staircases on both sides, and an enormous screen for the projections was hung upstage center. The screen was filled with stage-dominating images, frequently pictures of Marina Poplavskaya's face alone, even during intermissions. Very effective. Faust is now a scientist working on an atomic bomb, and his despair is caused by his conscience prodding him about all the people who will die because of what he's doing. The opera ends with the return of old-man Faust, who finally dies himself. So the whole opera was the hallucination of a dying man. That's rather daring.

René Pape was fantastic, an absolutely wonderful and spry Mephistopheles, clearly enjoying his devilish role. His Le veau d'or was a show-stopper, aided by some "possessed" writhing/dancing by the chorus. Jonas Kaufmann...ah, the word "stentorian" comes to mind. Big voice, and he's not afraid to use it. Poplavskaya wasn't quite up to the level of the two men, but she has a sweet voice and made Marguerite quite sympathetic. (Marguerite, IMO, is one of the great ninnies of the opera world.)

So in spite of the updating, I ended up enjoying this Faust . Familiar tunes, great singing...Faust as a nuclear physicist doesn't really matter.