Tuesday April 9th, 7:30 p.m. Bring-a-Friend Night

MEFISTOFELE

An opera in a prologue, four acts and an epilogue

by Arrigo Boito (1842-1918)

to his own libretto after Johann Wolfgang van Goethe’s play Faust

Premièred at Teatro alla Scala, Milan on 5 March 1868

Cast

Mefistofele

Faust

Margherita

Elena

Maria

Wagner

Pantalis

Nerèo

René Pape, bass

Joseph Calleja, tenor

Kristine Opolais, soprano

Karine Babajanyan, soprano

Heike Grotzinger, mezzo-soprano

Andrea Borghini, baritone

Rachael Wilson, mezzo-soprano

Joshua Owen Mills, tenor

Production

A 2015 production from Bayerische Staatsoper

Direction by Roland Schwab

Set Design by Piero Vinciguerra

Costume Design by Renée Listerdal

Lighting Design by Michael Bauer

Chorus and children's chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper

Bayerisches Staatsorchester conducted by Paolo Carignani


What reviewers said about the production
Singing “with clear, strong bass lines” (Deutschlandradio Kultur), René Pape plays Mefistofele as the sardonic leader of a satanic cult. As Faust, his slave, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja “hits his high notes with formidable vigour” (Financial Times). Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais’s Margherita “shines with understated Grace Kelly elegance” (Opera Today), while as Elena – the fabled Helen of Troy – Armenian soprano Karine Babajanyan “shines with heroic high notes” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). Finally, in the pit, Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber “holds all the musical textures together with admirable control” (BR Klassik)

Synopsis

Prologue
In heaven, Mefistofele mocks the wretched human race. When confronted by God with the notable exception of Faust, the two make a bet: Mefistofele wants to prove that he is able to undermine this perfect human being’s virtues, thus debunking God’s creation as flawed.

Act I
As Faust and his student Wagner are strolling through the busy streets of the town, a dark monk attracts their attention. Back home, Faust is about to devote himself to study the Bible when the monk reappears. It is Mefistofele, introducing himself as “the spirit that denies”. He offers Faust a pact: In exchange for his soul, Mefistofele will fulfill his every wish for the rest of his life. Faust agrees under the condition that he will experience genuine happiness.

Act II
Thanks to Mefistofele, Faust has regained his youth and courts Margherita and gains her favor while Mefistofele turns to her neighbor Martha. Faust coerces Margherita to administer her mother a sleeping potion so that the two lovers can meet at night undisturbed. Mefistofele and Faust climb up the Bracken where they celebrate a witches’ sabbath. A vision comes over Faust, showing him a shackled, incarcerated Margherita.

Act III
Margherita has poisoned her mother with Faust’s sleeping potion and, in a state of mania, drowned her child. Now, she awaits her execution in prison. When Faust arrives to free her, she turns towards him at first. Yet on Mefistofele’s arrival she realizes the source of all of her sorrows and begs God for forgiveness, whereupon a choir of angels declares her salvation.

Act IV
Mefistofele takes Faust to Ancient Greece. There, he courts the beautiful Helen whom he manages to win over. They indulge in their happiness.

Epilogue
Faust’s death draws nearer. He reflects upon his life and his quest for true happiness. He tells Mefistofele that he has failed to meet this specific premise of their pact. He realizes that only the love of God leads to true happiness and is thus able to break free from Mefistofele. Redeemed, he ascends into heaven.

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday May 14

PIQUE DAME (Tchaikovsky)

Stefan Herheim's unique 2015 interpretation for The Dutch National Opera