FAUST, A SYNOPSIS OF CHARLES GOUNOD'S GRAND OPERA
Setting: 16th Century, Germany
Faust is a five-act grand opera composed by Charles Gounod (1818-1893). The opera debuted in Paris on March 19, 2014 at the Theatre Lyrique.
However, it did not receive a good reception initially and the publisher, Antoine Choudens, took him for a tour through Italy, England, Belgium, and Germany. In 1862, he was revived in Paris and it immediately became a hit. It became the most frequently performed opera at the Paris Opera. Its popularity endured for decades leading to it being translated into at least 25 languages. However, due to the expensive nature of its full production, his popularity and critical reputation started waning around the 1950s. Interestingly, however, he is currently one of the most frequently performed operas at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.
Faoust, who is an aging scholar, realizes that after spending decades studying, he has nothing to show for it, but instead, he has missed out on life and love. He attempts to take his life, at least twice, with poison, but he stops each time when he hears a pastoral choir. He damns science, faith and happiness and seeks Satan's guidance. Moments later, Méphistophélès, the devil, appears and he tells him of his desires for youth and love.
The devil tempts him by showing him a vision of a young beautiful maiden Marguerite. He makes a deal with the devil (a forfeiture of his soul in exchange of youthfulness and love). The devil turns the poison in an elixir of youth, which he drinks, turns into a handsome, youthful gentleman and sets out into the world.
Townspeople, students and soldiers sing a drinking song. Valentin, who is leaving for war, asks Siébel to protect and watch over his sister, Marguerite when he is gone, which Siébel agrees and the crowd sings another song. The song is interrupted by Méphistophélès, who amuses the crowd with a song on the golden veal.
Méphistophélès maligns Marguerite, makes Valentin angry in the process and tries to hit Méphistophélès with his sword, which shatters. Méphistophélès is joined by him, Marguerite later appears and he declares his admiration, but Marguerite rejects his approach.
The flowers collected by Siébel outside Marguerite's garden wither as prophesied, but holy water seems to restore them. Faoust and Méphistophélès enter, Siébel flees. He gets enchanted by Marguerite's environment.
Marguerite finds the jewels left by Méphistophélès and tries them and sees a different woman in the mirror reflection of her. He later seduces Marguerite and they make love.
Marguerite, now abandoned by Faoust, is pregnant. Valentin returns from war only to find Margurite pregnant. Outside, Méphistophélès serenades Marguerite on his behalf. A fight between Valentin and him breaks out and Valentin gets fatally wounded. He curses Marguerite with his last breath. Distraught, Margurite goes to church to pray for forgiveness. She hears Méphistophélès's voice telling her that she is damned and she collapses in terror.
Marguerite is locked and her child is dead. Assisted unwillingly by Méphistophélès, he breaks into the prison to save Marguerite. He gets overwhelmed with pity, Marguerite panics when she sees Méphistophélès and blood on his hand. With a frantic appeal to heaven, she dies. Méphistophélès curses her again, but this time angelic voices proclaim that Marguerite is saved.
THE MAIN ROLES
Valentin, a soldier, Marguerite's brother,Baritone
Siébel, Faust's student, Soprano
M. Cibot,Wagner, friend of Faust,Baritone
Marthe Schwerlein, Marguerite's guardian, Mezzo-Soprano