As their primary androgen, testosterone helps men develop common male characteristics and is essential in the production of sperm. Controlled by your body's pituitary gland and hypothalamus, testosterone helps develop and maintain:
Facial and Body Hair
Healthy Red Blood Cell Levels
When low testosterone or hypogonadism occurs, however, males begin to notice concerning symptoms that often affect their everyday lives and romantic relationships.
When men lose significant amounts of testosterone, it alters their body's levels of testosterone and estrogen. Lower T levels usually result in abdominal fat, which in turn causes estrogen synthetize levels to increase, creating even higher levels of estrogen in the body. With more estrogen and less testosterone, a number of concerning issues begin to surface. Some of the symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Lowered Libido
- Lowered Sperm Count
- More Body Fat
- Issues with Concentration
- Male Breast Development
- Less Muscle Mass
- Motivation Issues
If you're a man struggling with one or more of the symptoms above, it could be because you have low testosterone. But the only way you can find out for sure is to have your testosterone levels tested by a wellness center like Proactive Wellness. If your testosterone levels are low, TRT in Wolf Trap, VA, may be the answer to your low-T problems.Book Appointment (703) 822-5003
Understanding The Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Are you starting to notice that you don't feel like "you" when you're at home or at work? Do you feel tired and lethargic all the time, even in your free time away from the office? Many men mistake these symptoms for being too sleepy or too busy. But the truth is, they're suffering from low testosterone. Since no two males will have the same symptoms of low T, it's prudent to recognize and understand some of the most common signs:
If there were two words that all men wish to avoid, it's these two. Being unable to perform in the most intimate moments isn't just embarrassing - it can affect long-term relationships and mental health. It's a difficult topic to talk about. But it doesn't have to be. Our experts are ready to help you re-light that special spark.
When you have low testosterone, sometimes the thought of having sex just isn't appealing. If you're one of the many men in the U.S. who lacks sex drive, it might not be you. I could be low testosterone. Don't settle for a mediocre sex drive - reclaim your vigor at Proactive Wellness Centers.
Less Strength and Muscle Mass
When testosterone levels deplete as we age, men lose their ability to lift heavy items, even with weightlifting routines in the gym. If you're making a concerted effort to maintain your muscle mass and strength but aren't making gains, it could be due to low T.
Your brain is home to many testosterone receptors, but when your body has low T, it can affect your mood. With time, poor spirits can lead to serious psychological issues, like depression. However, studies show that TRT in Wolf Trap, VA, can rebalance your hormones, which can help relieve depression and improve your mood.
Lack of Concentration
Do you find it hard to complete normal tasks when you're at work? Does it seem like your memory is fading? Does your spouse or significant other complain that you're not paying attention to them? The effects of low testosterone don't just affect your body - they can affect your mind and memory, too. When your testosterone levels are within normal range, brain fog and other concentration issues have been shown to go away.
What are the Risks of Living with Low Testosterone?
At Proactive Wellness Centers, we understand what men must go through daily when they have low testosterone. They suffer from fatigue and lack motivation and often don't feel like their usual selves. But as bad as those symptoms sound, living with low T can have more severe health risks that that put vital organs at risk. Some of the most concerning health risks you should be aware of include the following:Book Appointment (703) 822-5003
Some of the most concerning health risks you should be aware of include the following:
If you've been told by a doctor that you have high blood pressure, you're probably wondering what it stems from. Is it aging? Is it hereditary? Is it something else? According to academic research, men with low T have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular illnesses. When testosterone levels are low, red blood cell reproduction suffers. When that happens, plaque buildup in your arteries may be accelerated. With time, plaque building can lead to very serious problems like strokes and heart attacks.
When you have anemia, your body has a lack of or dysfunctional red blood cells, meaning your organs have less oxygen with which to function. Because testosterone has a role in healthy red blood cell production, it makes sense that men with low t have a higher risk of anemia. In fact, a 2009 study found that older men with low T are 5x more likely to be anemic than men with healthy levels of testosterone. While TRT in Wolf Trap, VA, isn't a cure for anemia, it will help produce more red blood cells in your body, which can prevent anemia.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes, and you're trying to figure out why, it may be linked to your T levels. That's because men with low testosterone have a greater chance of developing diabetes as they age. Similarly, men with diabetes are much more likely to have low testosterone, establishing a relationship between diabetes and testosterone. This relationship is further solidified by the fact that men with low T have a more challenging time resisting insulin. Though TRT won't cure diabetes, studies show that men with healthy testosterone levels also have healthier blood sugar levels and are often less obese.
If you look in the mirror in the morning and can't stand how much body fat you've gained since getting older, you're not alone. Many aging men have problems with their waistlines. If you eat well and exercise regularly but still can't get rid of that unsightly stomach or body fat, the culprit may be low testosterone. Multiple studies have shown the link between obesity and low T. In fact, testosterone plays an important role in food metabolism by regulating insulin, glucose, and fat. Fortunately, when combined with diet and exercise, men who undergo TRT can often lose weight and enjoy improved blood glucose and low-density cholesterol levels.
Enjoy Life to the Fullest with TRT in Wolf Trap, VA
Testosterone replacement therapy does precisely what it sounds like: It is a science-backed therapy that replaces low testosterone levels in men. The ultimate goal of TRT is to improve your life and well-being by balancing your hormones. Also referred to as androgen replacement therapy, TRT helps many men deal with and overcome the debilitating side effects of low T.
Originally developed by scientists in the 1930s, TRT has grown substantially in popularity over the years. Today, it is one of the most common and promising treatments for males with low testosterone.
How Does TRT Work?
Without getting too scientific, TRT works by providing your body with the testosterone it needs to function properly. Without healthy levels of testosterone, the male body can't maintain the natural processes it needs for overall health. In fact, men with low testosterone levels are more prone to serious health problems like type-2 diabetes and even heart disease. Until their T levels are restored to normal, most men suffer until they find a solution.
That's where TRT comes into play. With balanced hormones, your body can finally begin to heal, causing most symptoms of low t to diminish greatly.
The Proactive Wellness Approach to TRT in Wolf Trap, VA
At Proactive Wellness Centers, our team utilizes a three-pronged approach to healing and treatment:
Patient Education. We equip you with the knowledge needed to take charge of your health and achieve optimal well-being in your life.
Prevention. We focus on preventing diseases by providing you with a thorough evaluation, which includes comprehensive diagnostics and the information you provide on your health history form.
Rejuvenation. Lastly, we work closely with you to implement a rejuvenation program consisting of several science-based treatments that aim to promote tissue regeneration, reduce cellular degeneration, foster healing, and slow your aging process.
Because no two patients ever have the exact same needs and treatment, your journey to journey to optimal health will be unique and tailored to your body.
However, to give you a brief snapshot of the average patient's TRT timeline may look like this:
You contact our TRT clinic in Virginia. Based on your schedule, we'll arrange for a time for you to come in for your initial assessment.
Diagnostics and Evaluation:
One of our diagnostic experts will complete comprehensive testing to discover your testosterone and related hormone levels and your best treatment options.
We'll sit with you one-on-one to discuss the results of your lab tests. During this session, a medical practitioner will also answer any questions you have about low T and testosterone replacement therapy.
Begin Your Custom TRT Regimen:
Based on your lifestyle, goals, and test results, we'll craft a custom TRT plan exclusively for you.
When you undergo TRT at Proactive Wellness Centers, you're never alone. We'll be by your side the entire way to ensure your treatment is going well and you're hitting your benchmarks. We'll keep track of your progress, and if there are areas that need improvement, we'll work with you to accomplish the goals you haven't achieved yet. Because, at the end of the day, a little bit of encouragement can go a long way.
Enjoy the Results:
This is the best part! With time and care, you'll begin to notice the effects of TRT and will be well on your way to enjoying balanced hormones.
Trust The Proactive Wellness Difference
Did you know that 13 million males suffer from low T, but a whopping 90% go untreated by doctors? The reason is that conventional doctors believe that unless your Testosterone level is below the low lab reference range level, that your are "OK". At Proactive Wellness, we help you to optimize and be the best you can be, not just OK. Why be OK, when with the help of the right Testosterone dose, you can feel better, be healthier, stronger and more vibrant. If you believe that your testosterone levels are at unhealthy levels, it's time to contact Proactive Wellness Centers for testing. Living with low testosterone is a risk, but with personalized TRT in Wolf Trap, VA, you can minimize the harmful effects on your body.
Unlike other TRT clinics, we utilize a more complete and personalized approach to Testosterone Replacement Therapy. Our approach considers the role of DHEA, another very important hormone that needs to be balanced. And we look at Estradiol conversion, the unwanted effect where some men convert too much Testosterone to estradiol. In this case, these men (about 10%) need a medication to block this conversion, called an aromatase inhibitor. But notice that I mentioned that only 10% of men need this, but at many men's clinics, all men automatically get an aromatase inhibitor whether they need it or not. This drives Estradiol too low, causing other issues. Yes, Men need Estradiol also, but they need it in the proper proportion. Bottom line, our personalized approach ensures that you get exactly what you need, no more and no less.
Further, Proactive Wellness offers the widest range of Testosterone Replacement options so that men can choose the best for their particular lifestyle. Choose from pellets that are inserted just under the skin and last for 4-5 months, or the most popular option, Test Cypionate injections that are typically done weekly, or specialized transdermal cream or even a specialized intranasal application that mimics natural testosterone levels. Any of these methods are available at Proactive Wellness Centers so that you can get the option that is right for you.
Is testosterone replacement therapy enough? Maybe, it all depends on your goals and your lab results. Many men are also deficient in growth hormone (GH) and this hormone can also contribute to you not being your best. If this one is low, Proactive Wellness offers a range of Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) peptides to increase your GH levels. Many men combine this with TRT to feel their absolute best.
If you're ready to reclaim your confidence and return to loving life on your own terms, our physicians and medical team are ready to help. Don't be one of those men who constantly complain about their health but don't do anything about it. Contact Proactive Wellness Centers today to make a difference in your life!(703) 822-5003
Book an Appointment
Latest News in Wolf Trap, VA
Juanes arrived in U.S. as Latin music was rising. Now he’s riding another wave.
Juanes didn’t know Latin music would explode when he moved to Miami in 1996, electric guitar in tow. The Colombian-born singer would hear Ricky Martin, Juan Gabriel, Julio Iglesias and, less often, Maná as Spanish-language music played on the radio. Three years later, American media outlets proclaimed an “explosion” in Latin American and Latinx culture in the United States, with Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and Martin at the forefront.
“There was a moment of transcendental change in music,” Juanes recalled.
From the very beginning of his solo career, Juanes, whose full name is Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez, has positioned himself right in the center of what is big in Latin music. Like his early-aughts contemporaries, he would dedicate the next decade of his career to hits that toed the line between commercially viable pop and the rock stylings of his heavy-metal origins. Now-classic songs such as “La Camisa Negra,” “A Dios Le Pido” and “Fotografía” (with Nelly Furtado) made him a driving force in the Rock en Español movement of the early 2000s.
More than 20 years since his critically acclaimed debut album, “Fíjate Bien” (“Look Closely”), Juanes is a Spanish-language pop and rock icon with more than 15 million records sold sales worldwide and two dozen Latin Grammys.
U.S. consumers have again wakened up to Spanish-language music out of Latin America: Bad Bunny was the most-streamed artist in 2022 for the third year in a row. Shakira is having a renaissance. Reggaeton is ubiquitous.
“Today, it’s crazy, no? You hear a lot of reggaeton, but people listen to everything,” Juanes said. Recent collaborations between Drake with Bad Bunny and Metallica with J Balvin have the singer “very excited by what happens in music nowadays.”
When we speak, Juanes is in the red-carpeted studio of his Miami house, surrounded by his guitars. He had just returned from his native Medellín, Colombia, where, he tells me in Spanish, he was able to reconnect with “what I am, with the essence.” It’s this essence that he taps into on the new album, a return to the early days of his career. “Vida Cotidiana” (“Daily Life”), the rocker’s first album of original music in four years, sees him put “instruments played by people” — drums, bass and his beloved guitar — back at the forefront.
After years of experimenting with his sound, drawing freely from a variety of influences from hip-hop and reggaeton, he felt he had hit a “limit.” The pandemic-induced break from decades of touring, where he would spend only about a month at home at a time, gave him the space to write music freely and without “established codes,” he said.
Though Juanes has 10 studio albums under his belt, his latest is the most thematically and sonically tied to his early work. It also shows his evolution. The new album — which features collaborations with legend Juan Luis Guerra and young Latin American artists such as Colombian rapper Mabiland — is more introspective and measured. Songs such as “Gris” and “Más” show off his renewed rock roots, complete with soaring guitars and funky bass lines, while the sweeping “Mayo,” a response to the 2021 protests in Colombia, adds to the artist’s long tradition of socially conscious writing.
The decision to return to his roots took years, he said, but was driven by a “need to return to a place in which I felt a lot more comfortable, not just to be comfortable but to feel natural and authentic.”
Now, the tour in support of “Vida Cotidiana” will see Juanes hitting nine spots across the United States, Latin America and Europe over three months.
On Friday, he’ll have his “Vida Cotidiana” debut at Wolf Trap in Northern Virginia, which he calls “one of my favorite venues.” “I’m very, very excited,” he said. “I’m so excited that I don’t want to get too excited for fear something will go wrong.”
Last month, New York authorities cut short Juanes’s performance at New York’s SummerStage after about 17,000 people showed up and overwhelmed the 5,000-person Central Park venue.
“It was a really weird surprise,” he said. “Sad because I couldn’t play, but at the same time it gave me the certainty that people were interested in seeing music like mine.”
Wolf Trap releases summer artist lineup for 2023
The Virginia music venue Wolf Trap released its lineup of over 50 nights of shows for summer 2023.VIENNA, Va. — While it might feel like summer is far away -- I mean, it snowed this morning -- it is never too early to start daydreaming about warm and sunny days with loud music in the air.The Virginia music venue Wolf Trap released its lineup of over 50 nights of shows...
The Virginia music venue Wolf Trap released its lineup of over 50 nights of shows for summer 2023.
VIENNA, Va. — While it might feel like summer is far away -- I mean, it snowed this morning -- it is never too early to start daydreaming about warm and sunny days with loud music in the air.
The Virginia music venue Wolf Trap released its lineup of over 50 nights of shows for summer 2023. John Legend, Charlie Puth, Sting, The Avett Brothers and Babyface were just some of the artists expected to perform.
Brandi Carlile will headline Wolf Trap's Out & About Festival on June 24-25, joining Yola Lucius and Jake Wesley Rogers for a two-day celebration of music, nature and pride across three outdoor stages.
“The shows we’re announcing today are quintessentially ‘Wolf Trap,’ with extraordinary artists spanning genres and generations,” said Arvind Manocha, President and CEO of Wolf Trap Foundation.
Wolf Trap will also include performances from the National Symphony Orchestra, American Ballet Theatre, and Wolf Trap Opera's season. And yes, the beloved NSO movie nights weill return, featuring Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Jurassic Park concerts.
Tickets will go on sale to the public for all announced performances on Friday, Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. Wolf Trap members have access to presales tickets ahead of the general sale. Those members (donors of $80 and up) can purchase tickets now.
Below is the full schedule of Filene Center performances announced so far:
Full schedule and details on how to snag tickets can be found here.
Dance Review: ‘Giselle’ presented by American Ballet Theatre at Wolf Trap
Hee Seo and Daniel Camargo captivate in a night of ballet magic.The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) danced a hauntingly beautiful production of “Giselle” on the Filene Center stage that resembled an extension of the woods and graveyard where Giselle’s spirit hovers over her prince. In a word, Hee Seo (Giselle) and Daniel Camargo (Count Albrecht) were perfection. In a word, Hee Seo (Giselle) and Daniel Camargo (Count Albrecht) were perfection…an exceptional...
Hee Seo and Daniel Camargo captivate in a night of ballet magic.
The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) danced a hauntingly beautiful production of “Giselle” on the Filene Center stage that resembled an extension of the woods and graveyard where Giselle’s spirit hovers over her prince. In a word, Hee Seo (Giselle) and Daniel Camargo (Count Albrecht) were perfection.
In a word, Hee Seo (Giselle) and Daniel Camargo (Count Albrecht) were perfection…an exceptional ballet experience.
Wolf Trap Park provided the perfect setting for such an extraordinary performance, with its picturesque outdoor amphitheater nestled in the trees. As the evening sun set, casting a warm glow over the stage after a passing rain storm, anticipation filled the air, setting the stage for an exceptional ballet experience.
The ABT dancers executed their roles flawlessly, each step, each gesture, and each expression conveying the deep emotions of the story. From the tender and innocent love between Giselle and Albrecht to the spooky Willis—brides-to-be who die on the eve of their wedding—every character was brought to life with an astonishing level of talent and commitment.
Former ABT director Kevin MacKenzie’s staging, based the work on Marius Petipa’s original choreography, a tribute to the Russian ballet master while incorporating subtle modern touches that kept the performance fresh and relevant. The pas de deux between Giselle and Albrecht and a village couple were two of many highlights, leaving us in awe of the dancers’ skillful partnering and solo bravura.
The music, performed by the Wolf Trap Orchestra, resonated throughout the Filene Center. The emotive score by Adolphe Adam enhanced every scene, sweeping the audience into a whirlwind of emotions that ranged from joy to heartache—something only live music can accomplish. What also struck me was the attention to detail in the production design. We felt a part of the production that seemingly extended into the nearby woods.
The set designs, along with the festive costumes, transported us to the rustic village and haunting forest with scenery by Gianni Quaranta and costumes by Anna Anni, originally created for the 1987 film “Dancers,” that incorporates “Giselle” in the storyline.
Add to that, our seats were directly behind Prima ballerina, Amanda McKerrow, a gold medal winner and sublime Giselle for ABT and The Washington Ballet, now a Director of Repertoire. On her right was Susan Jaffe, one of my favorite ballerinas, now Artistic Director of the company. Their eyes were riveted on Giselle’s mad dance scene after she learns that Count Albrecht was already engaged to a Princess Bathilde, a haughty Courtney Levine who first takes pity on Giselle, then scorns her.
The plot of “Giselle” is itself wonderful. Recounting Albrecht’s betrayal of an innocent maiden, the ballet touches the heart in a more direct way than the allegorical “Swan Lake” or “Sleeping Beauty.” Hilarion (a predecessor of “Oklahoma’s” Jud Fry) pursues Giselle, but her weak heart beats only for Albrecht, a duke disguised as a peasant.
Broken-hearted, bereft of her senses, Giselle tremulously stumbles through steps she and Albrecht had danced together, and after a last frightened run, dies in her mother’s arms. What follows is amazing theatrics with sword swinging, fist fights, and circular dancing. Conductor David LaMarche was bouncing on his podium as the music came to a climatic frenzy, Giselle’s death, as the curtain closed on the first act.
The second act takes place in an eerie cemetery where a ghost glides swiftly across the forest. She is Myrtha, all-powerful Queen of the Willis, whose cold, imperious solo awakens the ghost-maidens and commands their would-be-husbands (who return each evening to place flowers on their graves) to dance until death. Holding her branch of rosemary (symbol of remembrance), Myrta never faltered in demanding the men die for their sins.
The mourning Count Albrecht enters in search of Giselle’s tomb. As he thinks of her, Giselle appears in a white romantic tutu, though he can only feel her presence. When the loving couple finally reunites in a passionate pas de deux, the Willis rush back and forth, cutting off all avenues of escape for both Albrecht and Hilarion (Jarod Curley), hidden behind Giselle’s tombstone.
ABT soared in the second act, especially Myrta (Chloe Misseldine) whose strong technique was evident throughout. Sigh!
In summary, I cannot praise ABT’s “Giselle” enough. It was a night of pure enchantment and artistic brilliance that will stay with me for years to come. If you ever get a chance to experience this 1841 ballet masterpiece, seize the opportunity without hesitation. Bravo to the entire cast and crew for an unforgettable evening of ballet at its finest!
Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes with one short intermission.
The American Ballet Theatre’s sixth production of “Giselle” (the oldest continually-performed ballet) was performed on July 27 and 28, 2023 at the Filene Theatre at Wolf Trap Farm, 1551 Trap Road Vienna, VA 22182. ABT will perform the full-length “Swan Lake” at the Kennedy Center on February 21-25, 2024.
Coming up at Wolf Trap, The Richmond Ballet performs Ma Cong’s joyful “Thrive” and John Butler’s masterwork “Carmina Burana,” with the Richmond Symphony & Chorus and the City Choir of Washington. Wolf Trap Opera artists—soprano Esther Tonea, tenor Lunga Eric Hallam, and baritone Daniel Rich—join the dancers in Carl Orff’s explosive score, a melding of classical ballet’s structure with the earthiness of contemporary dance at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center on August 30, 2023 at 8 p.m. Come early to explore the park and bring a picnic, blanket and bottle of wine. For more information and tickets for upcoming events at Wolf Trap (including the annual Children’s Festival), go online.
With a ballet subscription, rehearsal tickets are available. I love watching rehearsals, whether they are for dance concerts, dinner theater shows, neighborhood musicals or—during these mid-summer days—marching drum and bugle corps performances.
No matter what the discipline, there is nothing phony about a rehearsal. The effort is real and raw, the flubs painful, and the moment of mastery exhilarating. Rehearsals give you an inside view of art—something you never experience in a polished presentation—in dance, especially. Here you see the performers up close, in practice clothes that reveal every straining muscle and well-meant attempt at grace. Wolf Trap National Park for the performing Arts in Virginia is a terrific place to watch the behind-the-scenes rehearsals or to take in the lectures and demonstrations that put all that effort into context. It’s also the best place to see dance in a woodsy setting.
Wolf Trap's Summer 2023 Season Kicks Off With Fireworks, Concerts
A free concert with fireworks over Memorial Day weekend helps kick off a summer full of outdoor concerts at Wolf Trap.Patch Staff|Updated Wed, May 31, 2023 at 10:34 am ETVIENNA, VA — The summer season unofficially begins over Memorial Day weekend, and so does the summer concert season at Wolf Trap.Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is a popular destination for summer concerts at its Filene Center, an outdoor amphitheater. Summer concerts kick off Thursday as ...
A free concert with fireworks over Memorial Day weekend helps kick off a summer full of outdoor concerts at Wolf Trap.
|Updated Wed, May 31, 2023 at 10:34 am ET
VIENNA, VA — The summer season unofficially begins over Memorial Day weekend, and so does the summer concert season at Wolf Trap.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is a popular destination for summer concerts at its Filene Center, an outdoor amphitheater. Summer concerts kick off Thursday as The Avett Brothers perform on three nights.
Families can then enjoy a free concert with fireworks. On Sunday at 8 p.m., the popular Blast Off! with "The President’s Own" United States Marine Band returns. The band will perform concert band favorites, including tunes from "The Music Man," a medley of the Armed Forces’ service songs and more.
One other summer highlight will be the Out & About Festival headlined by Brandi Carlile and featuring 11 LBGTQ+ artists and allies to celebrate Pride month. The festival will be held June 24 and 25.
Beyond the Filene Center, the Wolf Trap Opera will perform its summer residency program at The Barns at Wolf Trap. The season includes three full scale productions, as well as recitals and concerts throughout the community.
For younger audiences, Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods performances will be held over seven weeks. The performances from June 20 to Aug. 5 range from music and dance to theater and puppetry. Children will stay engaged as the performances encourage audience interactions.
Those attending Filene Center performances can bring their own food and drinks, including alcohol, to enjoy at the new Meadow Overlook picnic areas or on the Filene Center lawn during performances. Another option is the returning The Fermented Pig at Ovations' farm-to-table barbecue buffet before Filene Center performances. New this year is a quick service bar with drinks and bites. Picnic boxes can also be preordered. Concession stands are also available during performances, providing meals, snacks and drinks.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is located at 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna, VA. Parking is free but limited. A Wolf Trap Express Shuttle is available roundtrip from the McLean Metro station during all Filene Center summer performances.
To see the full calendar for Wolf Trap's summer season, visit www.wolftrap.org/calendar.
Wolf Trap’s ‘Faust’ brings a hard bargain to the Big Easy
Michael Andor Brodeurhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/2023/07/24/faust-wolf-trap-review/
On Sunday, a matinee of Wolf Trap Opera’s “Faust” didn’t feel all that far removed from the muggy afternoon beyond the sturdy walls of the Barns, set as it was in the deep heat of fin de siècle New Orleans.
But director Alison Moritz’s smartly refined production of Charles Gounod’s 1859 mainstay proved immediately transportive, casting the opera in an alluring new light and concentrating its grandeur into a potent potion.
This “Faust” — the tale of an aging scholar who strikes a deal with the devil for another taste of youth — had its own fateful bargain to strike: For the cozy purposes of the 382-seat Barns and its modest pit, conductor Geoffrey McDonald led his lean 26-piece orchestra in a reduced orchestration of the opera by Francis Griffin.
McDonald handled his short staff ably and energetically, filling in gaps of anticipated intensity and approximating vacancies of scale wherever he reasonably could, and otherwise offering a sensitive, responsive and clearly endeared reading of the score. (Admittedly, I’d have traded both of my shoes to the devil for a single trombone.)
This tamping of Gounod’s roaring flame put added pressure on the singers to sing — not to mention the intimacy of the space raises the stakes on those singers to act.
Fortunately, all aspects were in order on Sunday: Moritz’s vision is graced by a keenly cast ensemble of talented singers, well-complemented by a chorus of Wolf Trap studio artists, its ranks effervescently present and (for the most part) dynamically sound. (Here and there, the orchestra didn’t stand a chance.)
Tenor Eric Taylor made a forceful and compassionate Dr. Faust, his “Rien! En vain j’interroge” a rending introduction of a man broken by longing and (here) jonesing for poison. A remaining fleck or two of the youthful vigor to which he was trying to bargain his way back would have been welcome, but it was still an assured demonstration of the grace and control Taylor wielded through all five acts.
Certainly soprano Brittany Logan was the afternoon’s standout singer as Marguerite — her voice clear and rich, capable of burnished color and shocking lightness. She has this way of tightening her voice around a particularly aching word; you can hear the stone in her throat. It’s not that she’s superhuman; she’s extra-human, a quality that made her Marguerite magnetic. This was especially so in her lithe and lilting jewel aria (“Ah! je ris de me voir si belle”) and her anguished pleas (and chilling heights) in the final trio (“Anges purs anges radieux”).
Méphistophélès was convincingly embodied in white linen finery and impressively sung by bass Wm. Clay Thompson. Part unholy spirit and part Deep South mob boss, he lent the devil suitably skeevy form and restrained vocal power. (Thompson apparently specializes at mining a sinister undercurrent in his voice, his lows smoldering like magma.) I loved his cloying faux-serenade in Act IV (“Vous qui faites l’endormie”) and his last stand in the demonic fifth act,presiding in a horned mask over an eerie mob of revelers in a humid-looking bordello.
In a pants role, mezzo-soprano Mary Beth Nelson offered a charming take on the crushingly dorky and perpetually friend-zoned Siébel, skillfully girding the young rival’s nervous voice with a thin rod of earnest nobility. Baritones Kyle White and Mario Manzo gave strong performances and likable energy to the duo of Valentin and Wagner, the former admirably rising to the required swagger and dying one of the slowest deaths I’ve ever seen onstage. I left the hall wanting to hear more of mezzo-soprano Kathleen Felty, whose voice was warm and rich, and gave more than the average Marthe.
The opera’s NOLA vibe was helped along with costumes by Lynly Saunders and lights by Colin K. Bills, whose golden-hour sunsets and crimson underworld bestowed the action with a poetic halo. Lawrence E. Moten III’s scenic designs were clean and clever — the wrought-iron rails and balconies of a New Orleans court quickly transforming into a chapel (complete with an effective shock of organ). A signpost in front of Marguerite’s home reads “1020 Rue Saint Ann” — a nod to Marie Laveau, a 19th-century free woman of color who became known as the “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans” that here serves as a spiritual template of sorts for our troubled heroine.
At times, Moritz’s vision of the Big Easy felt a touch congested onstage, and I wondered whether more routine use of a central platform thrust into the front rows might have helped. But these were small distractions in a production that otherwise wicked uncanny power from a limited palette. Even in reduced form, it felt like a deal worth striking.