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Boito’s Mefistofele has never quite made the grade, but never quite gone away. Roland Schwab’s production for Munich (2015) certainly attacks the opera with gusto, lavishing ideas and budget upon it. In a contemporary setting, Mefistofele strolls through an ugly world strewing discord and misery as he goes (think Donald Trump). Faust is his plaything, Margherita is Faust’s, and Elena runs the asylum in which Faust ends up. It sounds awful but it works with full and unembarrassed panache and is well-filmed by Tiziano Mancini. Omer Meir Wellber conducts a thinking man’s version of the score, and René Pape matches him as a sardonic, measured protagonist. Joseph Calleja is at his stylish best as Faust, Kristine Opolais is dramatically convincing but vocally scratchy as Margherita; Karine Babajanyan is a secure Elena.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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