Well, it wasn't exactly God calling out "Good ... Good ... Good ..." from the stage of the Valentine Theatre on Wednesday night. It was a member of the crew -- although the long white beard he was sporting certainly evoked some classic divine images.
|The themes of 'Faust" will be|
illuminated during the opera.
Conductor James Meena explained these struggles to a select number of guests gathered for a wine reception prior to Wednesday's dress rehearsal and student night performance. Modern stage settings like bar patrons break dancing and taking selfies with their cell phones speak to how lasting and relevant the story is.
"We're still wrestling with these themes today," Meena said, summarizing the tale of a wealthy man nearing the end of his life who makes a deal with the devil to find the one thing he never had: true love.
Goethe penned the play "Faust" in the early 1800s, though the story itself about a celebrated and controversial Dr. Faustus is much older. Director Bernard Uzan shared how the Toledo Opera updated the story in Sally Vallongo's preview article for The Blade. Executive director Suzanne Rorick and assistant director Robert Mirakin described how the Valentine is such a wonderful venue for this particular production for Joseph Schafer's article in The City Paper.
Production coordinator Jim Norman led reception guests Wednesday night on a tour of the stage, set with Faust's loft apartment and a projected disco ball. Later, they heard star Jamie Offenbach as Mephistopheles trying to corrupt the virtue of Marguerite (Janinah Burnett) and foil the efforts of Faust (Shawn Mathey). Offenbach's seductively rich voice could make anyone do anything.
Guests included Elaine and Brad Lewandowski representing the LaValley Family Foundation, a major sponsor of the "Faust" production. Brad Lewandowski was especially looking forward to this weekend's performances since it would be his first opera experience.
This particular story is a good place for him to start. "Anything dealing with the devil," he joked. His tale of love certainly has more success than Faust and Marguerite. He and wife Elaine, both northwest Ohio natives, will celebrate 30 years of marriage in May.
Also in attendance were Susanne and husband J.B. Rorick; Robert and wife Ashley Mirakin; Toledo Opera Guild executive board member Kim Kearns and husband Doug, an opera trustee and sponsor; guild board member and opera trustee Susan Conda; and opera board executive member Maureen Brown.
Registry Bistro catered the delectables, which included crab and pimento puffed pastry, pickled vegetables, candied pecans, pea-pistachio-basil hummus, and a charcuterie board with jams and bread.