Faust, the legend, as opposed to the operatic or dramatic versions, is one of those stories we all sort of know even if don’t know we know it – the deal with the devil, selling your soul, contract in blood, etc. If you recall numerous Looney Tunes in which a miniature angel and a demon both sat on a character’s shoulder urging him to do the right or wrong thing – then you know Faust. Musically, in addition to various operas, there was the great American Faust musical – Damn Yankees, the one with Lola getting what she wants, baseball and a happy ending.
There are sayings, part of the lexicon from various versions of the tale – “art is long but life is short” from Goethe, “the face that launched a thousand ships” from Marlowe.
In movies, there are versions going back to the silents and a 1967 version of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus starring Richard Burton as the not-so-good doctor and featuring Elizabeth Taylor as Helen of Troy. The sixties also gave us Dudley Moore selling his soul to the devilish Peter Cook for the love of Eleanor Bron in Bedazzled.
Gounod’s 1859 opera was loosely adapted from Goethe’s version, and the trouble may start there. Adaptation is a tricky business. While many operas have been adapted from plays, some translate better than others. While the story is filled with operatic aspects – magic potions, supernatural beings, honor, love, seduction, Continue reading Idiots at the Opera: Faust – A Noble Effort (4/2/13 performance)