An elderly scholar, disillusioned with life, longs for his lost youth. The devil offers him the chance to experience it again, as well as the love of a beautiful young woman—but the cost will be his immortal soul. The myth of Faust, told in multiple versions over several centuries, has become one of the best-known and most frequently interpreted stories in Western culture.
Inspired by Goethe’s famous drama, composer Charles Gounod and his librettists, Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, created a musical setting of the legendary tale that premiered in 1859 in Paris. Steeped in the tradition of 19th-century Romantic French opera, their Faust smoothes over some of Goethe’s psychological complexities, but stands as an enormously effective drama, brimming with melody.
A full-length activity, designed to support your ongoing curriculum.
Three"Musical Highlights" designed to focus on bits of music from Faust to cultivate familiarity with the work.
Performance Activities for students to enjoy during the Metropolitan Opera HD transmission.
A post-transmission activity, integrating the Live in HD experience into students' wider views of the performing arts and humanities.
In the Met’s new production, presented as part of the company’s Live in HD series, director Des McAnuff updates the action to the first half of the 20th century. Here, Faust is a nuclear physicist at the end of World War II who revisits the decisions of his own ill-fated youth. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann takes on the opera’s tour-de-force title role, and soprano Marina Poplavskaya, seen in last season’s Live in HD transmission of Verdi’s Don Carlo, returns as the innocent Marguerite. Bass René Pape sings Méphistophélès—in Gounod’s version, a suave, elegant embodiment of evil rather than a frightening character.
Young people will find this Faust relevant and thought-provoking, introducing questions of responsibility, pleasure, faith, and unintended consequences . The main Classroom Activity in this guide provides an opportunity to explore the actions and motivations of the central characters, Faust and Marguerite, with respect to students’ own ethical decision-making. Other activities involve close-up study of Gounod’s music and its role in communicating character, as well as specific aspects of director McAnuff’s interpretation. By introducing students to the people and problems that drive this opera, the guide can prepare students not only to draw lessons from, but above all to enjoy the classic drama that is Faust.