Opera – Faust
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 (Théâtre-Historique, Opéra-National, Boulevard du Temple) in Paris on 19 March 1859.
Parts of the opera have seeped into popular culture in Europe over more than a century. It was so popular in the United States that in New York the opera season began with a performance of it every year for several decades in the late nineteenth century, a fact to which Edith Wharton makes great reference in her novel The Age of Innocence. The Argentinian author Estanislao del Campo wrote a satirical poem, Fausto (1866), which describes a gaucho’s impressions during the performance of Gounod’s opera.
A performance of the opera is part of the story of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera and features in some film adaptations including the 1925 version. Irene Dunne performs the “Jewel Song” in the film Stingaree (1934) and Jeanette MacDonald performs several scenes from the opera in San Francisco (1936), complete with costumes, sets and orchestra.