Dutch National Opera presents
Pact with the devil
Opéra en cinq actes
Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
World premiere 19 March 1859, Théâtre Lyrique, Paris
Premiere 10 May 2014
Co-production with Teatro Real, Madrid
Gounod’s Faust returns, after many years, to the stage in the Netherlands. The legend of the man who sells his soul to the devil remains fascinating to this day. Gounod’s splendid music makes this a favourite of the operatic repertoire.
Frustrated by his unsuccessful quest for knowledge, the elderly Dr. Faust calls on Satan, asking him for eternal youth. In return, Méphistophélès, the devil, may claim him after his death. As a handsome young man, Faust seduces Marguerite, who bears him a son. Marguerite is condemned to death for the murder of her child, but rather than be saved by Faust and Méphistophélès she prays to God and her soul ascends to heaven.
La Fura dels Baus
Conductor Marc Minkowski has a keen affinity for Gounod, and he conducted Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at DNO. He now teams up with stage director Àlex Ollé from the renowned collective La Fura dels Baus (DNO debut). They are known for their modern approach – including the use of video – while remaining faithful to the work in question, and their interpretations appeal to a wide audience. La Fura dels Baus has already staged many Faust-themed works. Ollé: ‘Faust is important to our life and in our artistic career.’
Team, Cast and Chorus
- Marc Minkowski
- Stage Director
- Àlex Ollé (La Fura dels Baus)
- Set Designer
- Alfons Flores
- Costume Designer
- Lluc Castells
- Lighting Designer
- Urs Schönebaum
- Alfons Flores
- Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
- Dutch National Opera Chorus
- Chorus Master
- Ching-Lien Wu
- Le docteur Faust
- Michael Fabiano
- Mikhail Petrenko
- Florian Sempey
- Tomislav Lavoie
- Irina Lungu
- Marianne Crebassa
- Doris Lamprecht
Torn between worldly and sacred
Throughout his life, Gounod was torn between the sacred and the worldly; as a young man he even considered joining the priesthood. He read Goethe’s Faust tragedy as a youth, but it was the boulevard play by Michel Carré that would serve as the basis for the libretto. Faust enjoyed immense popularity in France and abroad from the 1860s, but after WWII its reputation waned.
The title role in Gounod’s masterpiece Faust is more a youthful lover than a sage, and the opera could just have well have been entitled Marguerite due to the female heroine’s key role in the narrative. Her music is sublime, for instance the famously exuberant Jewel Aria ‘Ah, je ris de me voir si belle’ or the prayer ‘Seigneur, daignez permettre’. In its day Faust, composed in a very personal style, was considered quite modern.
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Following Death in Venice and Faust the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra will return for Benvenuto Cellini in 2015. The Rotterdam Philharmonic, one of the world’s top symphony orchestras since its inception in 1918, is known for the intensity of its concerts, its colourful sound and its daring and innovative audience approach.
Every performance of National Opera & Ballet is preceded by an introductory talk. Learn more, enjoy more. The introduction begins 45 minutes before curtain and is held in the foyer of the second balcony. The introduction is free of charge to everyone attending the performance, and amplification is used to enhance audibility. Several days prior to the premiere, the introduction will be made available digitally as a podcast. Check the performance page of the production in question to see if the podcast has already been made available.
To accompany every performance, Dutch National Opera provides a printed programme in Dutch, with the synopsis in English.
View the programme for Faust here (PDF, 320 kb):Program book
***** Faust: an experience
***** A stroke of genius to entrust this opera to Ollé, his stagedesign is enthralling.
**** An awe-inspiring spectacle
A visually and musically arresting spectacle ****
‘Minkowski earned the loudest bravos’
‘The visual elements become a second orchestra, telling what Berlioz’s staging was (in Berlioz’s time) unable to show.’