Concert performance / Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré based on Carré’s drame fantastique “Faust et Marguerite” and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust, Part One” / In French with German surtitles
“Rien.” Nothing. This one word, sighed by the protagonist, marks the beginning of Charles Gounod’s opera version of Goethe’s “Faust, Part One”. Faust is disillusioned with life. He has gained no great insights and has made no great achievements. His only hope is that death will bring an escape from all his pressing questions. But just when Faust is about to end his own suffering, he receives a devilishly tempting offer: Mephisto promises to make Faust’s dreams come true and help him relive the carefree passions and ecstatic joys of youth. The sight of Marguerite kindles Faust’s desire and Mephisto gets to work…
Gounod’s “Faust” is world famous, not only for its many beautiful and highly memorable melodies, but certainly also for its clever libretto, which is just as inherently French as the opera’s music. With its fortunate combination of various stylistic elements, the work created a new type of opera: the opéra lyrique, which focuses on lyrical and sentimental aspects but also incorporates folkloristic and humorous elements.
Charles Gounod concentrates less on the metaphysical dimensions in Goethe’s work and more on its individual, spiritual interpretation, adding unforgettable melodies, such as the truly brilliant “Jewel Song”.
For a long time, Charles Gounod (1818–1893) worked as a church musician in Paris. He considered becoming a priest and studied theology for two years, but finally decided to focus on his compositions instead. Nevertheless, religion remained a central theme in his life. Aside from operas, he also wrote much spiritual music, including oratories, more than a dozen masses, a requiem and his famous “Ave Maria”.
In an essay on this opera, Camille Saint-Saëns calls it the point of culmination in Gounod’s oeuvre. Musical director Leslie Suganandarajah adapts Gounod’s “Faust”, better known as “Margarethe” in German-speaking countries, for a concert performance at the Salzburg State Theatre, together with the opera division and the Mozarteum Orchestra.