Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Faust. It was last on stage 4–25 April 2014 as part of the Spring 2013/14 season.
Weary of life and the pursuit of knowledge, the aged Faust contemplates suicide. Méphistophélès promises to satisfy all of his hedonistic demands in exchange for his soul.
Charles-François Gounod’s Faust was once one of the most famous and most performed of all operas: at Covent Garden it was heard every season between 1863 and 1911. Jules Barbier and Michel Carré’s libretto is a tale of romance, temptation, and the age-old battle between satanic powers and religion. It is based on Carré’s play Faust et Marguerite, which in turn is based on Part I of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s dramatic poem Faust, one of the great works of European literature.
David McVicar’s lavish production, first seen in 2004, sets the action in the Paris of Gounod’s later years, on the eve of the Franco-Prussian War. Charles Edwards’s designs include a memorable Cabaret d’Enfer and an impressive reconstruction of the Church of Saint-Séverin. They vividly convey the clash between religion and hedonistic entertainment, and provide a powerful backdrop to Gounod’s score. Faust contains much-loved musical highlights including the memorable Soldiers’ Chorus, Méphistophélès’s rowdy ‘Song of the Golden Calf’, and Marguerite’s Jewel Song with its dazzling coloratura. The opera’s final scene includes an impassioned trio between Faust, Marguerite and Méphistophélès, as Marguerite struggles to resist temptation and gain salvation.
News and features
28 April 2017
From dastardly demons to boozy brothel owners – we give the low-down on opera’s best bass roles.
11 January 2017
Lovesick teens, feisty young heroes, or supernatural beings – there's an important place for women playing men (then dressing up as women again?) in opera.
28 June 2016
Why have Goethe's works influenced composers including Mozart, Beethoven and Massenet?
24 August 2015
A number of recent Royal Opera and Royal Ballet productions will be shown on Sky Arts over the coming months.
25 November 2014
The Maltese tenor on his musical upbringing, the challenges of opera stardom, and the role he would still love to tackle.
22 April 2014
How the vernacular of Gounod’s era makes the work anything but trivial.
Faust is a grand opera in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Carré's play Faust et Marguerite, in turn loosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Part 1. It debuted at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on 19 March 1859, with influential sets designed by Charles-Antoine Cambon and Joseph Thierry (Act I and Act III, scene 1), Jean Émile Daran (Act II), Édouard Desplechin (Act III, scene 2; Act V), and Philippe Chaperon (Act IV).