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Faust is a five-act opera with music by composer Charles Gounod. The French libretto, by Jules Barbier and Michel Carre, is based on Carre's play Faust et Marguerite, which is in turn based loosely on German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1808 play, Faust. Der Tragodie erster Teil (Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy). The story concerns the aging scholar Faust, who makes a deal with the devil to reclaim his lost youth. Full of black magic, romantic intrigue, impassioned violence, and struggles of faith, Faust is a truly supernatural tale that indulges the darker side.
Faust debuted on March 19, 1859 at Paris' Theatre Lyrique to less than enthusiastic reviews. When it was revived in Paris in 1862, it enjoyed much greater success. Once a ballet sequence was inserted, it debuted at the Paris Opera in 1869 and became one of the venue's staples. Soon, Faust became a favorite of the international repertory and was translated into more than 20 languages. In fact, the Metropolitan Opera opened its doors with Faust on October 22, 1883, and it remains the eighth most performed opera there to date. Since it is a grand opera, requiring a great deal of performers, costumes, and sets to stage a full production, many venues avoid it or scale it down, removing certain features or sections of the story. But despite its challenges, it remains number 35 on Operabase's list of the world's most frequently performed operas. Order your Faust tickets today to enjoy this sinfully grand show.
Act I: In sixteenth-century Germany, Faust, an elderly scholar, ponders his academic career; he concludes that his studious pursuits have been ultimately unfulfilling and have caused him to lose the chance at finding love in his life. Distraught, he tries to poison himself twice but backs down both times when the sounds of a choir re-inspire the passions of his younger days. In desperation, Faust calls on the Devil and agrees to sell his soul for renewed youth. After showing Faust an image of the lovely young maiden Marguerite at her spinning wheel, Mephistopheles conjures a magic potion that turns the old doctor into a handsome young man, and the two set off to realize Faust's desires.
Act II: A group of students, soldiers, and townspeople sing a drinking song to send the military off to war. Before leaving with fellow soldier Wagner, Valentin entrusts the guardianship of his sister, Marguerite, to his young friends, Siebel. Mephistopheles enters, conjures wine from an empty cask, and rouses the crowd with a rowdy song. When he insults Marguerite's honor, Valentin tries to strike him, but his sword shatters. Recognizing the power of the Devil, the soldiers fend him off with the hilts of their swords (shaped like crosses, they keep him at bay). When Marguerite enters, Faust appeals to her, but she rejects him in a show of modesty.
Act III: When Siebel leaves a bouquet of flowers for Marguerite, Mephistopheles returns with a box of exquisite jewelry. When Marguerite returns (mulling over her introduction to Faust), her neighbor, Marthe, exclaims that the gems must be from an admirer. She immediately adorns herself with the jewels and is amazed at how they enhance her loveliness. Mephistopheles distracts the nosy Marthe while Faust charms Marguerite, and she allows him to kiss her before asking him to go away. But before long, she reappears at her window expressing her love and the two young lovers embrace to the nearby sound of Mephistopheles' devious laughter.
Act IV: Months later, Marguerite has given birth to Faust's illegitimate child and is now a social pariah, though Siebel remains by her side. When Valentin returns with his company, Siebel pleads with him to forgive Marguerite for her indiscretion. Ashamed at having abandoned her, Faust returns with Mephistopheles, who sings a bawdy serenade to her. Valentin, enraged, attacks the duo, but the Devil's magical intervention allows Faust to deal a fatal blow. Valentin blames Marguerite for his death and condemns her with his dying breath.
Act V: Marguerite lies sleeping in a prison cell, awaiting execution for killing her baby. Determined to free her, Faust and Mephistopheles enter. Though at first she is elated to see her long lost lover and reminisce about their past happiness, she does not flee with him. Despite Mephistopheles' urgings for haste, she instead repents and calls on the grace of God and His angels. On her way to the gallows, Mephistopheles exclaims that she is damned, but a choir of angels sings of her salvation as the Devil drags Faust to hell.
|Written by||Charles Gounod|
|French Libretto by||Jules Barbier, Michel Carre|
|Based on||Faust et Marguerite by Michel Carre|
|Original Source Material||Faust, Part 1 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe|
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