It’s strange to think that Gounod’s opera Faust, one of the staples of the opera repertory, wasn’t that great of a success at its premiere in 1859.
Thankfully, the work has stood the test of time and is a favorite of opera stages around the world. In fact, it was the work that was performed at the opening of the first Metropolitan Opera House in 1883 and was it’s season-opener for many years afterwards.
Gounod’s opera is a faithful re-telling of Goethe’s epic play of a doctor who sells his soul to the Devil for youth and knowledge.
Faust, once returned to his youthful appearance, falls in love with a girl named Marguerite. At the end of the opera, poor Marguerite is in prison for killing the love child she had with Faust.
Despite Faust’s pleading and the Devil’s taunting, a chorus of angels proclaims that Marguerite’s soul has been saved as she ascends the scaffold for her execution.