The Damnation of Faust
Leeds Town Hall, 12 May 2018
For their annual joint presentation, the Leeds Festival and Philharmonic Choruses had made the brave decision to perform Berlioz’s operatic oratorio, Le damnation de Faust, a work that in recent times has slipped from the concert repertoire.
It’s a story of Faust falling in love with Marguerite, who has been brought into his life by Mephistopheles, she then inadvertently kills her mother with sleeping draughts given while illicitly meeting Faust, for which she is then condemned to death.
In the name role the young British tenor, David Butt Philip, was outstanding, the part often moving into the realms of a heldontenor, his top notes ringing with enviable power, as he falls victim to the devil.
Maybe we have grown more used to a sinister Mephistopheles than the likable voice of David Soar can create, but in Rachael Kelly’s Marguerite we discovered a soprano of immense potential, her perfectly focused lyric voice projected so easily.
To describe the performance of the conductor, Simon Wright, as expansive would be an understatement, but he secured very resolute and powerful choral singing joined at the heavenly conclusion by the children’s choirs of Opera North.
I guess with one more rehearsal, the Opera North Orchestra would have been on peak form, but the string intonation was edgy, and maybe financial constraints left the lower string woefully short of numbers and weight.
Yorkshire Post, 18 May 2018