The Damnation of Faust | Lyric Opera House | Classical | Chicago Reader
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The Damnation of Faust 

When: Sat., Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., Tue., March 2, 7:30 p.m., Fri., March 5, 7:30 p.m., Mon., March 8, 7:30 p.m., Sat., March 13, 2 p.m. and Wed., March 17, 7:30 p.m. 2010
Price: $33-$194
The Damnation of Faust, Hector Berlioz's very weird 1846 take on Goethe, careens through 20 difficult-to-stage scenes and is usually presented as oratorio. It has new life thanks to such techie wonders as video projection, however, and was one of the Met operas broadcast to movie theaters across the country last season. Lyric Opera's version, with silken-voiced tenor Paul Groves as Faust, features two superb members of the Met cast—John Relyea as Mephistopheles and Susan Graham as Marguerite. Compared with what I saw at the Century 12 in Evanston, it also features a vastly more inventive production. Stage director Stephen Langridge, working with set and costume designer George Souglides and lighting director Wolfgang Göbbel, places the story in a dazzling, light-rod-streaked late 20th century. It doesn't all work: pasting conventional antiwar imagery onto Berlioz's already klutzy but deeper and stranger libretto, for example, seems ill-advised. But from the moment the curtain opens on Faust at his desk in a room that hangs suspended above the Civic Opera stage like a brilliant flat-screen TV, it's irresistible. The great Lyric Opera chorus is on prominent display; Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric Opera Orchestra. This production runs through March 17. —Deanna Isaacs

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