I have only heard this previously as a concert performance and love the orchestration of Berlioz. Faust legend has also always fascinated me. Hence my purchase. Initially I was bewildered by the masses of people carrying milk churns, and Faust barely distinguishable from the rest. My attention was distracted from the brilliance of the music by the strange staging. As the production continued the situation did not improve. I found myself closing my eyes for long periods to appreciate the quality of the voices. The choral sections were particularly good. The greenhouse in the middle of the set does not really gell, with chorus and soloists climbing up, or meandering in and out at regular intervals. The images projected within it seemed irrelevant, but did have a certain fascination. The booklet which attempts some explanation just sounded pretentious.
The music however is a different world, I have already touched on the chorus, but Paul Grove has a clarity of tone which I have only heard equalled occasionally, definately thrilling to the ears. Willard White vocally can also do no wrong his rich tones blending or contrasting with Grove. Vesselina Kasarova has a beautiful quality of voice, I have a few other operas with her, and at the top and bottom of her range she has power and a rounded quality. This role however is limited and does not make use of her acting powers, which from other productions are considerable. Upon a second watching I found it rather more pleasurable, as I stopped trying to make sense of the symbolism. 3stars may be a bit low, but 4 stars too high.