The violent delusions of a heartless devil

Faust and La Fura dels Baus are old friends. In the theater, the cinema, the opera, the Catalan group has offered over the years various approaches to the story, crystallized by Goethe, the doctor who agrees with the devil. It was in the wallet Mephistopheles, by Arrigo Boito, a title that Alex Ollé faces in a new production that inaugurated the Lyon Opera season, a company that regularly relies on the director furan.

As the title indicates, the epicenter of this work, which was published, in its final version, in 1875, is the devil rather than Faust, and this is reflected by Ollé in an assembly that, however, it can not avoid falling into the irregularities that characterize the base material. Unlike other adaptations, Boito, better known as a librettist of Verdi's latest works (Mephistopheles is the only score that has entered the repertoire), was based on the two books of the " opus magnum of Goethe, framing his own text in the challenge of the devil to God. Meanwhile, a series of scenes triggered by a small dramatic and psychological development, redeemed by music that reaches moments of great inspiration.

Ollé transforms the story into violent delusions of a poor devil who cleans the biological laboratory where Faust and Margaret work, and that, in the heavenly prologue, the angels begin their hearts. A large platform that overlaps various elements is the axis of Alfons Flores' decoration, collaborating again with Ollé, like Lluc Castells, responsible for a garment that ranges from laboratory protective frogs to cabaret in the classic Sabbath scene. Flowers and Castles returned to bring yellow bows when they left to say hello, without the Lyon audience being immune, unlike the intolerant reaction of a few weeks ago at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Perhaps the Lionians did not know what they meant.

Ollé has created suggestive images both in the prologue and, above all, in the third act, in which, in an ingenious participation, the imprisoned Margherita expresses her love for a Mephistopheles unable to love and her horror for Faust. The girl does not go to heaven, but dies in a big electric chair, before turning into a good blow, into a seductive Elena. In the epilogue, a completely insane Mefistofele makes Faust the same thing as the angels of the prologue: to take it down.

With Daniele Rustioni, Lyon has a first-order musical director who obtains a plethoric benefit from the remarkable stable forces of the theater (especially the heart, which has a transcendental participation). John Relyea was an obscure Mephistophile and Evgenia Muraveva a Margherita and Elena of measured lyricism. Paul Groves is an irrepressible tenor of musicality, but neither the small Latin timbre (at least in this repertoire) nor the acute problems have not been of great help. In any case, with the American tenor as Faust, we can say that La Fura dels Baus closed a circle: Groves was also the protagonist of the legendary The damnation of Faust from Berlioz to the Salzburg Festival in 1999, the great international launch pad for the company.

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