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Shawn Mathey tackles 'Faust' in new production in Toledo PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 10:37
TOLEDO -  Internationally renown tenor Shawn Mathey will be stepping into a new role when he performs "Faust" with  the Toledo Opera at the Valentine Theatre Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Mathey, of Bowling Green, plays the title character, an aging scientist who dissatisfied with life makes a deal with the devil, in the grand opera by Charles Gounod.
The tenor has won acclaim for his performances of Mozart but he said recently that he's felt that French suits his voice well. "It seems the way the vowels align with my voice...  the voice speaks better."
He gave credit to the Toledo Opera's musical director James Meena, long a supporter of Mathey's career, for giving him a chance at the role.
The emotional depths of the character are what "scared" Mathey the most. Working with Bernard Uzan, who serves both as the production's designer and stage director, has helped.  "His knowledge of the text is so in depth. He can make me be something that I personally thought I could not be."
It's a role he sees himself reprising many times. He is actually heading to Hong Kong directly after Toledo's "Faust" closes to star in another "Faust" production.
Not that this is the first time Mathey has brought a character of questionable morals to stage. He performed the lead in Benjamin Britten's "The Rake's Progress" in Zurich.
The setting for Faust is contemporary. "It's very meaty and very full dramatically," he said.
Joining Mathey in the cast will be soprano Janinah Burnett as Marguerite and Russian bass Grigory Soloviov as Mephistopheles - both new collaborators for Mathey -  supported by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Toledo Opera Chorus.
"Unequivocally this a phenomenally all-around cast," he said.
For his part Mathey enjoys working close to home. For someone who's spent a large part of his career working across the ocean from his family, coming home at night after rehearsals is "strange, in a good way."
"Being surrounded by family, playing with the kids, being normal, that make you better."
Tickets, from $30 to $80, are available at www.toledoopera.org or by calling 419-255-7464. A pre-opera talk will be presented one hour in the  Grand Lobby.
 

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