La Traviata

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

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Summary courtesy of Met Opera Guild

 

PROLOGUE

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”).

 

ACT I

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.

 

ACT II

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.

 

ACT III

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.

 

EPILOGUE

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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Stage Director:
Garnett Bruce
Faust:
Joshua Dennis
Marguerite:
Yunah Lee
Mephistopheles:
David Pittsinger
Valentin:
Ed Parks
Wagner:
Rob Saldana
Siebel:
Megan Samarin
Marthe:
Alissa Anderson

OPERA San Antonio in the News

Arts Alive San Antonio : Faust Returns After 50 Years
By Jasmina Wellinghoff

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Soprano Yunah Lee, from left, and tenor Joshua Dennis play Marguerite and the title character, respectively, in Opera San Antonio’s production of Faust.
Photo: Karen Almond

Review: Opera San Antonio climbs new heights with Faust

By David Hendricks

Opera San Antonio brought Charles Gounod’s “Faust” back to the city for the first time in half a century Thursday night, and with it, a brush with grand opera on a scale that could signal future higher aspirations for the performing arts company.

Since 2014, Opera San Antonio has operated as a fine regional opera company, mainly relying on sets and costumes from New York’s Glimmerglass Festival. Thursday night’s “Faust” was a step up. “Faust” impressed Thursday by presenting a high-caliber singing cast and insightful stage direction. Best of all was the magnificent, sweeping grand opera-style set and costumes from Houston Grand Opera, its 1986 production of “Faust” by famed director Francesca Zambello and artist Earl Staley.

At the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, all the elements fell together beautifully Thursday, a reminder that opulent opera once was commonplace in San Antonio, such as in 1969 when a young tenor named Plácido Domingo sang in “Faust” for local audiences.

The lush sets were so breathtaking, a wholly new one for each of the five acts that startled with depth and detail, that they drew applause from the audience of about 800 people at the Tobin Center. From the sets, along with the costumes, emerged a vision of the 1500s in what would now be Germany. The scenery combined with near-constant stage motion by the characters, chorus and others — including jugglers and acrobats — to keep the story flowing, all thanks to co-artistic advisers Garnett Bruce and E. Loren Meeker.

The cast reflected its wide experience, many of them reprising their roles from productions elsewhere. Tenor Joshua Dennis as Faust was versatile enough to shift from a bitter old man to a youth sincere in pursuing the pleasures of love after making his fabled deal with the devil.

Baritone David Pittsinger used his robust, piercing voice to fashion a Méphistophélès that was appropriately boss and conniving. Recent Grammy winner Edward Parks, a baritone, impressed as a protective, soldierly older brother to Marguerite. Mezzo-soprano Megan Samarin was spritely as the teenaged boy Siébel, while mezzo-soprano Alissa Anderson was sassy as Marguerite’s neighbor.

But the shining star was soprano Yunah Lee as Marguerite, who was really the main character, not Faust, because she was the only one who grows as a person, rising from her adolescent love of jewels in Act Three to the mature wisdom Marguerite must show in the Act Five. Her “Jewel Song” in Act Three was pure sweetness. The cast also sang well in ensembles during several scenes.

The well-rehearsed chorus of 36 singers performed well the role of the community’s voice and certainly was swell in Act Four’s “Soldiers’ Song.” The San Antonio Symphony in the pit played with gravity and balance under guest conductor Robert Tweten. The cellos and basses had an especially good night. The organ, played by Seth Nelson, added dramatic power to the final scenes.

“Faust” repeats at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tobin Center downtown.

hendrickd53@yahoo.com

SA Express News: Opera San Antonio climbs new heights with Faust
By David Hendricks




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