THE AGING SCHOLAR FAUST MAKES HIS FAMOUS PACT WITH THE DEVIL, trading his soul for youth, knowledge, power, and love. But his new powers lead only to the seduction and ruin of the innocent Marguerite, and to a battle between heaven and hell for her redemption.
Gounod’s sweeping opera defines French Romantic music. It comes to San Antonio in Francesca Zambello’s legendary production, designed by the distinguished Houston artist Earl Staley. The opera will be sung in French with English titles above the stage.
Box Office: (210) 223-8624 or click here
May 9, 2019 7:30 PM
May 11, 2019 7:30 PM
H-E-B Performance Hall, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
Summary courtesy of Met Opera Guild
Alone in his study, Dr. Faust laments that his lifelong search for knowledge has yielded only despair. Cursing his fellow men, the old philosopher tries to take his own life, invoking Satan. The devil Méphistophélès appears, and Faust tells him of his longing for youth and pleasure; Méphistophélès offers to fulfill these desires in exchange for Faust's soul. Transformed into a handsome youth, Faust goes with Méphistophélès in search of a beautiful young girl (duet: "A moi les plaisirs”).
At a medieval fair, a young soldier, Valentin, asks his friend Siébel to protect his sister, Marguerite, when he leaves for battle ("Avant de quitter ces lieux"). A student, Wagner, starts a lively drinking song but is interrupted by Méphistophélès, who delivers an impudent hymn in praise of greed ("Le veau d'or"). The devil amazes the crowd by causing new wine to flow from a statue. When he makes a toast to Marguerite, Valentin draws his sword, but it shatters. Realizing the stranger is the devil, the other soldiers hold their swords like crosses before Méphistophélès (chorus: "De l'enfer"), who backs off. Undeterred, Méphistophélès creates a diversion so Faust may approaches Marguerite. She refuses to let him escort her home, but Faust follows her as the waltz overtakes the town square and Valentin leads his men off to war.
Siébel has been cursed - every flower wilts at his touch. But as soon as he prays, the curse is broken and leaves a bouquet for Marguerite ("Faites-lui mes aveux"). He is followed by Faust and Méphistophélès, who goes in search of a more impressive gift; left alone, Faust hails Marguerite's simple home and the enchanting beauty who lives within ("Salut! demeure"). The devil returns with a casket of jewels. When Marguerite arrives, she sings a ballad ("Il était un roi de Thulé"), interrupting herself with reflections on the stranger at the fair. Discovering the flowers and jewelbox, she delightedly adorns herself ("Ah! je ris"). Méphistophélès diverts a nosy neighbor, Marthe Schwertlein, by flirting with her so Faust can make his conquest. As night falls, Marguerite confesses her love ("Il se fait tard!") but persuades Faust to leave. When he is about to comply, the devil sends him back and laughs as Marguerite yields to Faust's embrace.
Marguerite has given birth, finding herself shunned and mocked by the town except for Marthe and Siébel. Valentin and his surviving comrades return from the war, ("Gloire immortelle"). The soldier questions Siébel about Marguerite but receives only evasive replies; puzzled, he enters his house. Faust, remorseful at having abandoned Marguerite, arrives with Méphistophélès, who serenades the girl with a suggestive ballad ("Vous qui faites l'endormie"). Valentin, stepping forth to defend his sister's honor, fights a duel with Faust, who, guided by Méphistophélès, runs him through. As the devil drags Faust away, Marguerite kneels by her dying brother, who curses her with his last breath. She seeks refuge in church shadowed by Méphistophélès, who torments her with curses and threats of damnation.
Marguerite lies asleep in prison, condemned to death for the murder of her illegitimate child. Faust and Méphistophélès enter, planning to spirit her away. As the devil keeps watch, Faust wakens Marguerite; at first, the distracted girl is overjoyed to see him, but instead of fleeing with him, she recalls their past happiness. When Méphistophélès urges haste, Marguerite calls on the angels to save her (trio: "Anges purs, anges radieux!"). As she dies, the devil pronounces her condemned, but angel choirs proclaim her salvation.
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