Mini-review: Lyric Opera Baltimore's 'Faust'
No, not because of the contemporary production, which has its effective points, but does not entirely convince.
And certainly not because of the stagecraft -- there were several amateur-night-in-Dixie moments Friday night at the Lyric involving basic lighting and coordination elements that a professional company should be able to avoid.
The reason to take in this "Faust" is ...
In my dozen years here, I can't recall offhand hearing a tenor fill that theater with more pure beauty of tone, security of technique and expressive ardor than Bryan Hymel summoned last night as Faust. His was a very classy, eloquent singing. (We sure could have used him for Lyric Opera's "Traviata" last fall.)
Stefania Dovhan also impressed greatly as Marguerite, delivering a good deal of radiant vocalism and interpretive intensity. It was good to hear this gifted and internationally busy soprano in this house at long last; she did her early studies at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
And, even allowing for an apparent indisposition (lots of coughing into his sleeve between phrases), Kristopher Irmiter had the vitality to carry off the role of Mephistopheles.
Sturdy supporting work came from Lee Poulis (Valentin) and Irene Roberts (Siebel), and the chorus made some notable contributions.
Presiding with authority, sensitivity and a flair for building to dramatic peaks, conductor James Meena provided another substantial plus.
I'll have more to say later about the production, but suffice it to say for now that, musically speaking, this is easily the richest achievement of Lyric Opera's first season -- reason enough to make the Sunday matinee.