'And here we must turn from the Margaret to commendation of the Mephistopheles of the Covent Garden Faust, who is represented by M. Faure with great dramatic skill, in full accordance with this spiritual reading of the opera. He even wins an encore for the ''Dio dell' or,'' in which he delights to set the world chorusing the praise of Beelzebub; and instead of M. Gassier's hunted Figaro, we have a malignant fiend stricken with deadly terror, quaking, shrinking, gnashing his teeth, when Mephistopheles is banned with the crosses on the sword hilts of the students. His mocking serenade at the door or forsaken Margaret is no longer the almost incomprehensible excrescence it appeared, as given by M. Gassier, in connexion with the other reading of the opera. Here we have seen in the drama, and felt in the music, a conflict between a pure soul and a mocking fiend; and the serenade, as given by M. Faure, has mockery for its natural tone, but is the devil's cruet song of triumph in its motive.
'A transposition of scenes in this act, as performed at the Haymarket opera, seems to confirm our impression that M. Gounod meant to show separately at the London houses the two sides, spiritual and human, of his work. In the Haymarket version, the fiend's interference with the prayers of Margaret takes place with diminished emphasis outside the cathedral, and is followed by the killing of Valentine and his curse on his sister, which forms the climax of the act. This is transposed from the original arrangement, and the effect of the change is to bring out with more emphasis the material incidents of the story, and to throw its allegorical sense more into the background. At Covent Garden the original order is restored. The curse has fallen upon Margaret before the struggle in the church of the despairing soul with the demon who lurks to betray it, and that conflict forms in a great cathedral scene the climax of the act. Mephistopheles speaks to his victim from within a side chapel, where, by a skilful arrangement of the lights and shadows, he stands like a spectre. Again, - to hurry at once to the end, - the redemption of Margaret's soul is not represented slightly by a transparency, but dwelt upon in a substantial group that fitly crowns an opera remarkable even at this house for the luxurious completeness of its stage appointments, and so brings the allegory to its right, emphatic end. But Faust is held to his bargain. At the Haymarket, where is is chiefly shown as one of a pair of human lovers, he is, we believe, with M. Gounod's consent, saved.
'Though we have hurried through the noble last act, we must not forget to mention how finely in the rendering of Madame Miolan Carvalho the soul of Margaret, strong in prayer and victorious over the tempter, at last strides forward and stands fearless breast to breast with its great enemy.
'Signor Tamberlik is a good Faust, his quality of voice being of especial value in the opening act, but he is not equal to Signor Giuglini in the love-music. Signor Graziani sings as well as Mr Santley, but not better, the part of Valentine. Madame Didiée is all that can be desired of Siebel. Signor Tagliafico ensures, as actor and singer, fullest efficiently to the rendering of the small part of Wagner, and Madlle Lustani's Marta deserves also its good word. The stage appointments and groupings are perfect, and the choruses given most effectively, except that the old men's part of the chorus in the Kermesse loses much of its comic quaintness for want of the peculiar quality of voice demanded by it from the singers. As for the orchestra, in a work like Faust, rich in orchestral fancies, painting and shadowing every thought expressed on the stage, here everything depends most safely upon Mr Costa and his comrades. So smoothly runs the well-considered music that we seem to hear M. Gounod thinking.'
(The Examiner, London, Saturday, 11 July 1863, p. 440a/b)
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