Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust is tonight's stream from the Metropolitan Opera, 2008. See my discussion here of how it fits into the stream of Faust operas and plays. The expense of installing the complex Lepage production has prevented it from being revived. This is our only opportunity. I am enjoying the complex but pleasing staging. It allows for large masses of people moving on and off, dancing, birds flying, etc. These fill the long stretches of instrumental interludes. The opera was intended by Berlioz for the concert stage, but I am enjoying this staging. If I remember correctly, the people who managed the Paris opera did not like Berlioz.
It is important to remember that Robert Lepage is the creator of Cirque de Soleil. This explains the presence of acrobats who climb around the set. We even have three of them being crucified. They disappear suddenly when the scene changes. Giordani and Relyea climb all over the set like the acrobats. Lepage tends to forget that singers and acrobats have very different professions.
This is an excellent cast. I sometimes wonder what has become of John Relyea. This is one of my favorite performances of Marcello Giordani. The pervasive legato of Berlioz seems to suit him very well.
The set is more a commenting tableau than a staging. Events are suggested rather than shown, but it stays true to the story.
"D'amour l'ardente flamme" was performed by Susan Graham and Pedro Diaz Cosme on English horn. This is a highlight of this opera and was quite gorgeous.