Metropolitan Opera (December 2011) Gounod: Faust

"The Met needs good conductors right now, and on the strength of this performance, it's got a new one to call upon..."

"Vallet at least had a firm hand on what he could get away with, and he delivered a polished, flavorful yet absolutely faithful account of the score. Even when I found myself wanting a little more idiosyncrasy -- more character in the soldier's chorus, for example, where we might profit from the sense that testosterone, patriotism, and bloodlust are boiling under the surface -- Vallet kept his cool. The melodies came swirling up like pure mountain springs, and for all that the military numbers were rousing, they couldn't match for force and majesty the High Church chorale that greets Marguerite's ascent into Heaven.

A onetime physics student himself, Pierre Vallet conducted Faust in Barcelona earlier this fall (a debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu) and assisted in the musical preparation for the current run at the Met, where he's been on the conducting staff for 15 years. Vociferous friends greeted his arrival at the podium on Saturday, and he displayed remarkable poise all evening, even when the overenthusiastic crowd began cheering Kaufmann's star turn in "Salut! Demeure," well before the orchestra had finished. Vallet turned to the violins, shrugged, and grinned as if to say, 'What're you gonna do?'"

William V. MadisonBillevesées 9