The Vienna State Opera – at least in these, the last days of the Ioan Holender era – is one of the last remaining opera houses in the world in which a repertoire system is rigorously maintained. But the absence of opening-night tension in repeat performances by no means brings any loss in quality – on the contrary, often the reallocation of roles and the more relaxed atmosphere in the audience can lead to an increase in quality instead. That was the case in 2009, when after its opening night Gounod’s Faust became a real feast of singing. The conductor Bertrand de Billy was in the pit of the Vienna State Opera, and with his unerring mastery of style and idiom he enjoyed a triumphant success with the audience.
Gound: Faust - CD-Presentation at the Vienna State Opera
Foto: Wiener Staatsoper GmbH/Axel ZeiningerThe two protagonists were new to Vienna: Piotr Beczala as Faust and Soile Isokoski as Marguerite. On CD, too, they prove that they were a real stroke of luck, able to combine vocal brilliance with nobility and subtle characterization. The Polish tenor confirmed his reputation as a versatile master of bel canto and a „knight of the high C“, just as the Finnish soprano (who had already enjoyed success at the Vienna State Opera in the title role of Halévy’s La Juive) proves with her finely drawn vocal lines and her well-nigh limitless palette of nuances that she is not just suited to Mozart and Strauss. Nor is it a secret that the mighty bass voice of Kwangchul Youn is not just a Wagnerian giant, for also in the role of Gounod’s devil he can reach the heights of form with remarkable consistency. And with Michaela Selinger and Adrian Eröd as Siebel and Valentin we have documentary proof that for two decades under Iaon Holender, discovering local talent was a matter of course (though by no means something that comes of its own accord). We can hear in compelling fashion how these singers are brought into small, but still important roles as part of their moulding process. And when one hears the precision of the Vienna State Opera Chorus, one can only join in their final chorus of resurrection. No one could here claim that the final judgement has fallen on repertoire theatre; no, it is saved!