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City focus Florence

At the Opera di Firenze, director Bruno Ravella adapted a production of Gounod’s Faust, based on David McVicar’s 2004 staging for Covent Garden, to suit the resources of the city’s state-of-the-art Teatro dell’Opera.

First impressions of Charles Edwards’

period sets and Brigitte Reiffenstauel’s sumptuous costumes seemed rather oldfashioned, but this quickly changed as the opera proceeded, as surprise followed surprise in a gripping sequence of events.

Paul Gay, as the wily Mephistopheles, dominated the stage, gleefully drawing inspiration from his glittering trunk of tricks and causing havoc at every turn: first the old, bent Faust who, under the maleficent illusion of eternal youth, happily cartwheels across the stage, then the happygo- lucky, flag-waving crowd who give way to the hectic can-can of the Cabaret d’Enfer, and then again the ballerinas in the scene of the Night of Walpurgis whose dance evolves into an orgy. Gay, in one of his favourite roles, alters his disguise from a figure of urbane sophistication to that of drag queen and in a final, dramatic moment, impersonating Christ himself.

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About Opera Now

British soprano Sophie Bevan discusses her starring role in a new opera at ENO; exploring the hidden art of the répétiteur; traditional craftsmanship meets contemporary design at Oman’s Royal Opera House Muscat; and Cardiff prepares to crown the Singer of the World. Plus, our pick of this year’s top singing competitions around the world; English Touring Opera proves that learning about opera can be educational and fun; American baritone and movie star Nelson Eddy; Simon Callow’s Wagnerian triumph; and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s legendary recordings.