Gounod – Faust


Another retelling of the story of Faust, that roamed Europe, and especially the lands of what is now Germany, since the end of the sixteenth century. The story is best known from Goethes work some centuries later, and that is where this opera finds its roots.

Allegedly, a Johannes Faustus, magician, medic and astrologer caused a stir when he was alive, but even more so when he died in an alchemy experiment in 1540. Pretty soon rumours were abound that he sold he soul to the devil in exchange for gold and knowledge. He made a pact with Mephistopheles.

In this time of wonders, when book presses were getting cheaper, and more and more people could afford to read a book, stories like this were popular. A whole host of writers spread the word about the strange doctor around, including that most famous of German poets.

Yet it seems the story for this opera goes in a different direction altogether. It seems to be more about Marguérite, the woman Faust fancies. As a result, or maybe to distinguish it better from either Goethe or an earlier opera by Niels Spohr, it is sometimes called Marguérite.

Two weeks ago I wrote about another French version of the Faust story: La Damnation du Faust. This one is not only better, bus also better performed, in my view.

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