(Creation in Théatre-Lyrique, on March 19,
Situation : En Allemagne, au XVIe
Act 1. Faust's cabinet.
The philosopher 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 person.
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
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
Act V. The mountains of the Harz. The night of
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").