• 5 Things to Know about FAUST

    By COC Staff

    The first original production to be spearheaded by COC General Director Perryn Leech, Gounod’s Faust is a timeless story about making a pact with the devil, told in the grandest of French grand opera fashion. Featuring large choruses, soaring arias, dance, and dazzling set and costume design, this devilishly unforgettable opera lands at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts this fall.

    Read on for 5 Things To Know about Faust before joining us at the opera house!


    A timeless tale

    The legend of Faust, a man who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for knowledge or youth, was first popularised in the 1587 Faustbuch—a collection of stories about ancient magi renowned for their skill in the occult sciences. The book inspired Christopher Marlowe’s 1604 play, The Tragical History of D. Faustus, as well Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1808 tragic play Faust, widely considered one of the greatest works of German literature. In the 1859 opera that established his reputation, French composer Charles Gounod shifted the narrative focus onto Faust’s tragic romance with Marguerite—putting his own stamp on a tale that continues to inspire artists today.

    Who did you say you were?

    When Gounod’s opera premiered at Dresden Semperoper in 1861, it was retitled Margarethe. For many years this remained the custom in Germany, to distinguish it from Goethe’s play as well as from Louis Spohr’s 1816 German opera Faust. Given Gounod’s focus on the heroine’s struggle to overcome both her deeply flawed lover and the Devil himself, it’s fair to say that the opera you see performed at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts this fall might equally have been named Marguerite!

    Fancy footwork

    In 1869, a ballet was introduced into the first scene of the final act in order for Faust to be presented at the Opéra de Paris, where it would become the company’s most frequently performed work (the original spoken dialogue was also replaced with sung recitatives, bringing Faust in line with the operatic conventions of the day). Although modern productions tend to dispense with the ballet, this element has been preserved in several stagings at the Metropolitan Opera, where Faust opened the original opera house in 1883. As for our 2024 production? We don’t want to give away too much—but look out for a glittering pair of dancers transformed into the living embodiment of Marguerite’s jewel box in Act 3.

    Forever young

    Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, and Liszt also composed works inspired by the Faust story, the popularity of which continued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Literary works such as Heinrich Heine’s Der Doktor Faust: Ein Tanzpoem (1851), Paul Valéry’s Mon Faust (1946), and Thoman Mann’s Doktor Faustus (1947) also continued to capitalise on its rich themes and tragic ending. Later, the emergence of modern cinema meant a new look for an old tale: films such as F.W. Murnau’s 1926 silent fantasy Faust, the 1974 rock horror film written and directed by Brian de Palma, Phantom of the Paradise, and 1981’s Mephisto all offered audiences fresh interpretations of a story that, like its hero, never appears to grow old.  

    That spinal (sic) staircase is just the start

    In director Amy Lane’s new production, the many locations featured in Gounod’s Faust are filtered through a 1930s fantasy landscape inspired by creators as diverse as Tim Burton, Lewis Carroll, and Stephen King. Torn between the yearnings of his mind and the inevitable decay of his body, Faust’s conundrum is reflected by a set design that directly references the pulmonary system, with bronchial blood vessels as trees and a looming lung x-ray backdrop. Meanwhile, costumes are filmic and fantastical—matched only by Gounod’s shimmering score for pure decadence designed to inspire and delight!

    Faust runs from October 11 - November 2, 2024 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
    Posted in 24/25 Season


Phone: 416-363-8231

Toll Free: 1-800-250-4653

Contact Page

Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube