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'Romeo' stars return in opera 'Faust' at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

Vale Rideout and Rachel Watkins rehearse a scene from Faust. They portray lead characters Faust and Marguerite.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

Vale Rideout and Rachel Watkins rehearse a scene from Faust. They portray lead characters Faust and Marguerite.

In 2006, Opera Tampa had a triumph with Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, with the youthful pair of Vale Rideout and Rachel Watkins as the star-crossed teenagers. So why not cast the two in the French composer's other big opera, Faust?

"They were so remarkably effective when we had them together in Romeo et Juliette, and now it's Gounod again," conductor Anton Coppola said this week. "So let's bring that whole combination back together, including director David Lefkowich. Since Romeo worked so well, I think Faust should, too."

Rideout plays the aged Faust, who sells his soul to Mephistopheles (Mark Doss) in exchange for youth and the chance to seduce virginal Marguerite, sung by Watkins. Both Rideout and Watkins are making their debuts in the roles.

"They're intelligent kids," Coppola said. "They bring a good grasp of the motivation of the characters. They're not just vocal instruments. She goes from a shy, modest girl who's awakened physically and emotionally and sexually in the garden, then she's a repentant sinner in the church scene, and then she's emotionally unstable at the end. She's able to portray all of that, right down the line. It all comes out."

If you go: Faust has performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa. $39.50-$89.50. (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045; tbpac.org.

Prize winner: Todd Donovan, an opera baritone from St. Petersburg, won a big prize this month in Savannah, Ga. Donovan was awarded the gold medal and $12,000 in the American Traditions vocal competition, singing Being Alive from Stephen Sondheim's Company and If I Had My Way by Frank Wildhorn. He was cited for the most entertaining performance of a song with lyrics by Savannah native Johnny Mercer, It Had Better Be Tonight.

Opera On screen: The Audition, a documentary on the 2007 National Council Auditions at the Metropolitan Opera, airs at 3 p.m. Sunday at Regal Citrus Park 20, Tampa. $15. Directed by Susan Froemke, the documentary follows 11 finalists in what is billed nowadays as the American Idol for opera singers.

Norma, the Bellini classic, screens at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Beach Theatre, St. Pete Beach. $20. The Italian production stars Daniela Dessi in the soaring title role.

Musicals: Musical theater fans have a rare opportunity to check out Smile, the Marvin Hamlisch-Howard Ashman adaptation of the 1975 movie about a beauty pageant, set in Santa Rosa, Calif. Michael Newton-Brown directs the show, which opens Thursday and runs through April 26 at Players Theatre, Sarasota. $12 and $23. (941) 365-2494.

Robert Bowman stars as professor Harold Hill in The Music Man, Seminole High School's production that will be showcased next week at the Florida State Thespian Conference at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. There is a fundraising performance at 7 p.m. Saturday at the school, 8401 131st St. N, Seminole. $20.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8716.

'Romeo' stars return in opera 'Faust' at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center 04/14/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 8:21pm]

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