English National Opera hasn’t been having too much luck with its idea of entrusting opera stagings to directors with no experience of staging opera. Matching fresh minds to old repertory is all very well but high-risk. And so far it’s resulted in disasters like the last Don Giovanni and damp squibs like the recent Gounod Faust – which I see has found no favour with Angela Gheorghiu. She was booked to sing this same production at the Met but has just pulled out on the enigmatic grounds that it wouldn’t be good for her reputation (as if cancelling the entire run of a show you’ve signed up for serves your reputation any better).
Meanwhile, ENO carry on regardless with another Faust – this time the Berlioz Damnation – and another first-time opera director, Terry Gilliam (the man who put the crushing foot into Monty Python’s graphics).
Whether it will be any better than the others, who knows?. But to help form your own opinion you might check out the short promo film ENO have released in advance of opening night. It’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOrOX7-r3VE
I can only say that if I were a major opera company and this was all I’d been able to get from a director tackling a large and complex piece, I don’t think I’d have issued the film clip. But then, if I were a major opera company, I think had have ditched the first-time director idea by now.