By the standards of Goethe’s tragedy, the Faustian bargain in Gounod’s opera is a little Mickey Mouse, but infectious melody compensates lavishly. As the wizened sage turned heartthrob, the Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu has just the timbre and heart one hopes for. The very young Italian-Kazakh soprano Maria Mudryak, with the doll-like beauty of a baby Netrebko, portrays the beguiled Marguerite. The barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes, of New Zealand, works his wiles as the devil Méphistophélès. For the witches sabbath, the director David McVicar sticks him in opera gloves, an evening dress, and a tiara (beard optional), which one hopes will flatter him more than it did Bryn Terfel in London many seasons ago. —M.G.
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