Took in the final dress rehearsal of Faust at the COC last night. A very good production and run-through, even for someone like me who doesn't live for Gounod. An effective balance between carefully choreographed and visually rich mass scenes and claustrophobic (psychological) interiors (see the pix on the COC page). One local gent looked very fetching both in fancy dress and as a wounded soldier.
It's the first time I've heard the opera in its totality. In this iteration of the Faust story, the good Doctor really just wants to be young and swingin' again. Inner character stuff is heavily skewed toward the three principals (F., Mephisto and Marguerite) in the libretto; the other characters are there more for purposes of counterpoint (particularly Siebel, the love-lorn villager). I still don't understand why hard-luck Marguerite was imprisoned in a room with a functioning gibbet, or why she was still enamoured of Faust even after he morphed into Rob Zombie, but hey, that's hoppera.
This was my first time up in the nosebleed deck (second row, Ring 5) at the Four Seasons Centre, and both the sightlines and sound were fabbo (not great for those of us lacking a head for heights though--the ring-side mezzanines on the upper two levels scare the bejeezus out of me just looking at 'em). In general I like the hall. It does all of the important things exceedingly well. But, unlike Mr. Packwood in his post today, I do have a few beefs with it. First of all, an opera house with no escalators might look cool, but given that around 70% of the opera and ballet crowd are 60+ I don't know how practical it is. There's also a paucity of drinking fountains and there's no benches in the basement, which is where the coat-check is, so anyone wanting to put on their galoshes post-show'd better learn how to hop. Bathrooms are also a let down quality-wise given the look of the rest of the building; both the Hummingbird's and Roy T's are probably nicer. On the plus side, the seats are probably the comfiest I've ever planted my skinny little ass in (bit short on leg-room) and the building looks way cool at night as you approach eastbound along Queen St.