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Hell of a Deal 

The orchestra finds the devil in the details.

If you're a classical-music lover but can't exactly hum Schumann's Faust from memory, you're not alone. Members of the Cleveland Orchestra — which performs Scenes From Goethe's Faust tonight and Saturday — weren't all that familiar with the work either. John Tessier, a Canadian lyric tenor who sings the role of Ariel, only recently learned the music. "I didn't know the piece at all," he admits. "It's not something that's done regularly."

The Cleveland Orchestra has performed Faust only once, in 1978. And don't feel bad if you've never heard of Ariel — an important but lesser-known character in the story of a guy's tragic deal with the devil. "I'm still sort of knee-deep in figuring out exactly how I fit into things dramatically," says Tessier. All mystery aside, there is one aspect of Faust that's beyond doubt: the music. Schumann wrote some of the world's best pieces for the pure human voice. "I was pretty sure it would be good," says Tessier. "It's a gift to sing music like his."
Thu., Jan. 12, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 14, 8 p.m.

Speaking of Highlights

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