Productions of Mefistofele generally stand or fall on the abilities of the bass. Celebrated bass-baritone Ferruccio Furlanetto is 62 years old, and has sung professionally for more than 30 of those. The steady, focused tone has loosened a bit, especially when placed under pressure, but it is still an imposing instrument: dark, colorful, and powerful. A Mozart singer of great skill, he has segued into heavier repertoire as his voice has darkened over the years. He has had great success in a couple of buffo roles, in particular Leporello—until he dropped the role—and Don Pasquale. He is renowned for his intensely felt Philip II and Fiesco. More recently his portrayal of the anguished Boris Godunov has brought acclaim for both the scale and depth of his instrument and his commanding stage presence. He is less successful, however, with characters that require malevolent charm. His Gounod Méphistophélès hectors rather than seduces and bellows rather than insinuates. The same holds true for his initial attempt at Mefistofele. From the first confrontation with the heavenly host, he plays the demon as an arrogant bully rather than a supremely self-confident, sly, sardonic tempter. It is partly a matter of Furlanetto’s weighty timbre and partly temperament. His devil lacks the ability to laugh: at God, at the foolishness of the world, at Faust, and most damagingly at himself. The result is a monochromatic bad guy, however impressively he is vocalized. Furlanetto never wholly fails to please, but he does not surprise, or amuse, or chill as a really great Mefistofele would.
|Run Time:||164 minutes|