Tag Archives: Faust

Preview – Faust at The Metropolitan Opera (04/02)

Venue: Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan, NY

Performers: Composer: Charles Gounod, Librettist: Jules Barber and Michel Carre, Conductor: Alain Altinoglu, Faust: Piotr Beczala, Marguerite: Marina Poplavskaya, Valentin: Alexey Markov, Mephistopgeles: John Relyea.



Gounod in his autobiography says, “In a word, Morality (or the definition of what is good), Science (or the definition of what is true), Art (or the definition of what is beautiful) well all lacking until the advent of Man.” (Gounod, 226). I wish before i went to see the opera i had read about Gounod’s history. In his autobiography I see that he found balance of life very important. As a child he would try to run away from doing chores in order to do what he loved, compositions. However, in his autobiography you can see that although he loved composing, he also took time to dedicate his time to other things, such as religion.
Faust is about a scientist that regrets his life when he is old because he feels like he didn’t do much with it. Gounod says that “Morality, Art, and Science were developed to become better by man.” (Gounod, 226) However, in Faust, Faust is regretful because even though he dedicated his time to something that was important to the success of man, he lacked morality and the experience of beauty. You can see how he lacks morality when he made a pact with the devil to become young again. In this opera i believe Charles wanted to show audiences how taking essence of different aspects of life is important to live a fulfilling life. He showed through Faust how concentrating only one aspect of your life and ignoring others can lead to being regretful. Faust after making a deal with the devil shows no improvement in quality of life because he lost the woman he loved and he is still unhappy. Gounod through his music moved the crowd to feeling how he wanted us to feel. When he wanted us to feel sad he used slow, low pitched notes, and when he wanted us to feel slightly cheerful he used faster notes, and added woodwinds.
Faust was written in the 19th century and the setting of it took place in the 16th century. In the 19th century the theory of evolution was introduced. In this century, people turned to reason rather than faith because science began explaining how things in life worked. In making these discoveries, people began believing more in reason and science, rather than religion. Knowing this, I wonder if Gounod composed this play in a way to enlighten people on the importance of embracing all aspects of life, not just one like Faust did.
I believe this piece sets it aside to others because the central message continues to be relevant. I believe that his central message was to not only engage in one aspect of life, and explore all opportunities while you have the chance. In the beginning of Faust, he shows how it regretful not taking advantage of life can be. This opera was extremely moving through the music, and the themes.
Souces: Gounod, Charles. Charles Gounod; Autobiographical Reminiscences. New York: Da Capo., 1970.

Preview – Charles Gounod’s Faust (3/21)

Opera in five acts with music composed by Charles Gounod


  • Conductor: Alain Altinoglu
  • Faust, a scientist: Piotr Beczala (Tenor)
  • Mephistopheles: John Relyea (Bass-Baritone)
  • Wagner: Richard Bernstein (Bass)
  • Valentin, a soldier, Marguerite’s brother: Alexey Markov (Baritone)
  • Siebel, one of Faust’s students: Julie Boulianne (Mezzo-Soprano)
  • Marguerite: Marina Poplavskaya (Soprano)
  • Marthe, Marguerite’s friend: Catherine Cook (Mezzo-Soprano)

The Venue: The Metropolitan Opera

A video clip from scene V – Walpurgis Night


Charles Gounod was a French composer. Huebner stated that “throughout the 19th century, until the creation of societe nationale and the rise to prominence of concert organizations after 1870, the primary way for a young French composer to make a name for himself was by composing operas.”(21) Charles Gounod rose to fame due to the talent and passion he possessed for his music. There was a contest called the Prix de Rome, which is a contest that grants the winner to study at the French Academy for free; only the best win the contest and Charles Gounod was one of them.

Faust is an opera that Charles Gounod wanted to compose. “It was he that proposed ‘Faust’ as an operatic subject to the librettists”(R.Martin and T. Martin iii). I find it interesting that the libretto from 1966 only contains four acts opposed to the program book of the recent performance of Faust that has five acts.

Also, the opera that I saw was performed in French. Originally Faust was performed in German and then translated to Italian when it became the first opera to be performed at the New York Metropolitan opera in 1883(R.Martin and T.Martin iii). I believe that I would have been more excited watching Faust had I known that it was the opening performance for the Metropolitan opera. It is also enjoyable to know that Faust was translated to French assuming the reason was because Gounod was French. I enjoyed the opera; however, I found it difficult to completely enjoy the art since my eyes were halfway stuck on the closed captions on the seat in front of me. I do not think that it is entirely important to know the history behind the art but it definitely adds to the magic to know beforehand.

I was a bit surprised when finding out that the opera played into the idea that humans could sign their souls over to the devil for something in return. Even growing up as a child I remember cartoons and movies that would reenact the deal with the devil. It was surprising that some of the same ideas are still being recreated centuries later.


Gounod, Charles, Jules Barbier, Michel Carré, Ruth Martin, and Thomas Martin. Faust: Opera in 4 Acts. New York: G. Schirmer, 1966. Print.

Huebner, Steven. The Operas of Charles Gounod. Oxford [England]; New York : Oxford University Press: Clarendon, 1990. Print.