An Opera That Deserves Better
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 02/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The world of opera would certainly not be the same if Arrigo Boito chose a different career path. Boito played a significant role in the revision of Verdi's SIMON BOCANEGRA and wrote the libretti for OTELLO and FALSTAFF. Boito also wrote the libretto for Ponchielli's LA GIOCONDA. Obviously Boito knew what could work on stage as OTELLO and LA GIOCONDA's success proves, but as a composer, Boito was less successful. As a composer, was a "one hit wonder" with his opera MEFISTOFELE. The work is not widely performed, though some major opera companies do revive it from time to time.The opera is based on the legend of Faust, and shares some characteristics of Gounod's FAUST but the story also has differences, specifically the inclusion of the Elena portion of the story. The score of the opera has beautiful and powerful moments, especially the choral pieces. In this recording, Samuel Ramey plays the role of Mefistofele, and he handles the role with power and tremendous vocal ability. There are moments of sheer beauty in his singing that gives his character a certain deceptive nature, which is in keeping with a being like the devil, but it can at times also have an eerie quality which is also appropriate. Both Placido Domingo and Eva Marton are excellent as Faust and Margherita/Elena respectively, but the real superstars of this recording are The Hungarian State Orchestra and the Hungarian Opera Chorus. Under the direction of Guiseppe Patane, the orchestra and chorus make this recording exceptional."