Il Sole 24Ore - Italy - daily newspaper

January, 25th 2007

An incandescent Faust

The Berlioz opera dazzles for the spectacular sets by Hugo de Ana at the Parma’s Teatro Regio Excellent artistes, from tenor Giuseppe Sabbatini to soprano Nino Surguladze

Hugo has been working hard recently: he has created three shows, on extremely different subjects, interpreting them with the same common denominator, a dizzy crescendo of fantasy. De Ana’s trilogy ended at Parma’s Teatro Regio, with “La Damnation de Faust” by Berlioz where the concept of the set was so revolutionary and the stage effects so visionary, that he seemed to have put Star Wars and Mel Gibson in a blender, with gleaming images and bloody rites combining sacred and morbid.
Spectators left after the show rather agitated, disturbed by incandescent visions, but also with a very clear sensation: the Argentinean director is the first to handle theatre with a contemporary touch today. He doesn’t only make it more modern, but definitely more captivating for young audiences.
The Parma show was a great, ingenious, perfect provocation. Not an example to be followed. A clear catcall for the type of theatre that is full of staid performances, good manners and wholesome conventions. Hugo is a tremendous tearaway and iconoclast, but, like all the best masters of the past, is also a maniacal perfectionist.
In this recent trilogy (Faust, Scene dal Faust and La Damnation de Faust), the production, as always entirely by him (direction, scenery, costumes and lighting), fell in love with a typical present-day component, a virtual dimension.
Nowadays, everything, or almost everything, is virtual: it’s there, it’s not, it is because it’s imagined, it disappears. A virtual set, which in words seems a very boring philosophical issue, when seen “live” is a frenzy of imagination and technology. It is the nucleus around which the director constructed these three shows, with the support of two video projection geniuses, Sergio and Mattia Metalli (father and son, just as in traditional crafts). Now in Faust, thanks to a perfect correspondence with the visions of Berlioz, it was all one: magnificent story weaving, with the punctuation completely disrupted.
De Ana is the greatest contemporary baroque talent: he loves the perversion of the sacred (and here the jubilation was in the final dance of the flayed demons, grimly detailed, like certain anatomic paintings, with their members fully erect), and also the objectivity of technology. This brought to life a pliable constantly changing world (the projected images were all cross-sections of Parma or the theatre, perfectly recognizable and then processed with monstrous deformation) so, for example, in the Song of the King of Thule, a goblet became hundreds of projectiles shot into the room.
The orchestra was disciplined, under the baton of Michel Plasson, but once more, above all, the Chorus was excellent. Surprisingly, in traditionalist Parma, a great success.

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