F A U S T
Act 1. Faust's cabinet.
The philosopher Doctor Faust is profoundly depressed by his inaptitude to reach
fulfillment through knowledge and thinks of committing suicide. He pours the
contents of a poison phial in a cup, but stops suddenly drinking the deadly
liquid when he hears a pastoral choir. He damns happiness, science and faith and
calls on Satan to guide him. Méphistophélès appears (duet: "Me voici"). Faust
confesses to him that he looks for youth, more than wealth, glory and power.
Méphistophélès agrees to fulfill the wishes of the philosopher, in exchange for
his services in the infernal regions. As Faust hesitates to accept this
condition, Méphistophélès has Marguerite appear to him sitting at her spinning
wheel. Faust signs then the document and is transformed into a noble young
Acte II. The carnival at the city gates. One sees a
cabaret on the left.
The curtain rises on a joyful choir of students, soldiers, bourgeois, girls and
stout women (choir: "Vin ou Bière"). Valentin enters, holdin in his hand a medal
which his sister Marguerite gave to him; he is about to leave for war, and is
giving instructions to his friends, notably to Wagner and Siébel, so that they
take care of her. They sit down to take a last glass. Méphistophélès appears
suddenly, and amuses them with a song on the golden veal (round dance: "Le veau
d'or"). Valentin gets angry when Méphistophélès talks lightly about his sister,
but his sword breaks in the air before reaching its target. Confronted with a
supernatural power, Valentin and his companions brandish crossshaped knobs of
their swords in front of the devil (choir: "De l'enfer"). Méphistophélès remains
alone, soon joined by Faust and by a group of village waltzers (waltz and choir:
"Ainsi que la brise légère"). When Marguerite appears among them, Faust offers
hers his arm; she refuses with modesty and goes away deftly.
Acte III. Marguerite's garden.
Siébel is in love with Marguerite and sets down a bouquet for her (stanzae: "Faites-lui
mes aveux"). Faust and Méphistophélès enter the garden; while the devil is in
charge of finding a present for Marguerite, Faust shouts out to Marguerite's
house and to the defending embrace of nature (cavatina: "Salut, demeure chaste
et pure"). Méphistophélès returns and sets down a casket with jewels for the
girl. Marguerite arrives, wondering who was the young gentleman who approached
her earlier. She sings a ballad on the king of Thulé, discovers the bouquet and
the casket of jewels and, quite incited, tries earrings and necklace (scene and
air: "Il était un roi de Thulé"). Marthe, Marguerite's governess, tells her that
these jewels have to be the present of an admirer. Méphistophélès and Faust join
the two women; the first tries to seduce Marthe, while Faust converses with
Marguerite, who shows herself still very reserved (quartet: "Prenez mon bras").
While Faust and Marguerite disappear for a moment, Méphistophélès casts a fate
to the flowers of the garden. Marguerite and Faust return and she allows Faust
to kiss her (duet: "Laisse-moi, laisse-moi, contempler ton visage"); however,
she steps back suddenly and asks him to go away. Convinced of the insignificance
of his efforts, Faust is resolved to abandon his project altogether. He is
stopped by Méphistophélès, who orders him to listen to Marguerite at her window.
When hearing that she hopes for his quick return, Faust shows himself and takes
her hand; as she drops her head on Faust's shoulder, Méphistophélès cannot
refrain from laughing.
Acte IV. Marguerite's room.
Marguerite has given birth to Faust's child and is ostracised by girls in the
street. Saddened because Faust abandoned her, she sits down at her spinning
wheel (air: "Il ne revient pas"). Siébel, always faithful, try to encourage her.
A square. The return of Valentin is announced with soldiers' walking, and it
becomes clear that things are going to deteriorate. Having heard Siébel's
evasive answers to the questions he asked about his sister, Valentin rushes
furiously in the house. While he is inside, Méphistophélès satirically plays the
role of lover, giving a serenade under Marguerite's window (serenade: "Vous qui
êtes l'endormie"). Valentin reappears and demands who took his sister's
innocence. Faust pulls his sword; during the ensuing duel, Valentin is lethally
wounded. As he dies, he throws back all responsibility on Marguerite and damns
her for the eternity. A cathedral. Marguerite tries to pray, but is prevented
from it by,first, the voice of Méphistophélès, then by a devils' choir. She
finally succeeds in finishing her prayer, but faints when Méphistophélès
releases a last curse.
Act V. The mountains of the Harz. The night of Walpurgis.
One hears a choir of will o' the wisps when Méphistophélès and Faust appear.
They are quickly surrounded by witches (choir: "Un, deux et trois"). Faust tries
to run away, but Méphistophélès hurries to take him somewhere else. A decorated,
populated cave of queens and courtesans of the Antiquity. In the middle of
luxurious banquet, Faust sees Marguerite's image and demands for her. While
Méphistophélès and Faust leave, the mountain closes and the witches return. The
inside of a prison. Marguerite is imprisoned for killing her child, but, thanks
to Méphistophélès's help, Faust obtains the keys of her cell. Marguerite wakes
to the sound of Faust's voice; they sing a duet of love (duet: "Oui, c'est toi
que j'aime") and Faust asks her to run away with him. Méphistophélès appears and
begs Faust and Marguerite to follow him. Marguerite resists and calls for divine
protection. Desperate, Faust watches and falls to his knees in prayer, while
Marguerite's soul rises towards heaven (highlight: "Christ est ressuscité").