Mefistofele in Concert

Mefistofele in Concert
By Arrigo Boito. Presented by Opera Australia. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 25 & 27 May 2022.

There are significant advantages in producing concert versions of a major opera. The savings in production costs is enormous and it is possible to make such performances more feasible and accessible. There are more than just pragmatic considerations as the singing and the music become the entire focal point. This concentrates attention on the performers and the musicians in a rather different and unique way. 

The classic tale of Faust selling his soul to the devil is imagined in this opera. Mefisofele (Ferruccio Furlanetto) takes Faust (Diego Torre) on a journey of carnal pleasure in exchange for his soul upon his death. He has encounters with Margherita (Leah Crocetto), a simple village girl, and Elena - Helena of Troy (Natale Aroyan). Even while he is enjoying these pleasures the text explores his ambivalence towards the pact and this production seems to favour this sentiment of regret. This is especially evident in the scene of Margherita’s death. Crocetto is able to convey the poignancy of Margherita’s demise so powerfully that it easily transports the audience. Moments like this highlight the advantage of the in-concert performance format.

Furlanetto’s Mefistofele is impish and mischievous, and this contrasts well with the seriousness of the other characters. Aroyan and Crocetto both convey a compelling devotion to Faust and Torre’s remorse is gradually built up across his performance. In this in-concert format both the chorus and the orchestra are also brought to the forefront, and they are magnificent. The pleasure in seeing performers relying purely on raw emotion and command of their incredible vocal and musical talents is extremely satisfying.

Patricia Di Risio

Image: Leah Crocetto. Photographer: Jiyang Cheng

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