Faustby Charles Gounod
The aging Dr. Faust makes a deal with the devil to regain his youth and win the young Marguerite. Based on the Goethe classic, this tale of good and evil brims with Gounod's unforgettable melodies and opera's favorite villain. This new Doug Varone production is the first Minnesota Opera staging of Faust in a decade.
The run time for Faust is approximately 3 hours and 25 minutes, including two intermissions.
Dates + Performancesat Ordway. Get directions
See 3 operas for as little as $35 each! Click here to purchase a subscription today.
Parking is available up to 48 hours prior to each performance. To purchase, click here and select the Pre-Paid Parking menu item on the left.
Arrive one hour early and enjoy a free, fun and informative presentation about the opera you are going to see. Dale Johnson hosts Faust Opera Insights along with Resident Artist Naomi Ruiz and Brian Boyce.
Opera Insights is held in the grand foyer on the second floor of Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.
Sunday Matinee Brunches
The Minnesota Opera is partnering with M Street Cafe at the Saint Paul Hotel for brunch. Click here for more information.
// -->: 660px; height: 480px;">
Alone at his desk, Faust looks deep within his soul. Bitter and disillusioned, he contemplates the vial of poison before him. Voices of happy villagers carry through the open window; he curses them and their maker and invokes the name of Satan.
Much to Faust's surprise, Méphistophélès appears and offers him exactly what he wants – another chance at life – in exchange for his soul. The philosopher hesitates, but after seeing an image of the fair Marguerite, he heartily accepts the bargain. Drinking the vial, now an elixir of youth, Faust goes out into the village with Méphistophélès as his companion.
Méphistophélès joins in the villagers' revelries. He sings a song of his own – a tribute celebrating the biblical Golden Calf and the bacchanals that go along with it. Wagner offers a glass of wine, but Méphistophélès instead grabs the student's hand, noting a dark future present in its lines. For Siébel, the demon prophesizes that any flower the ardent young man shall touch will wither away; for Valentin, death, not in battle, but at the hand of someone known to him. Angered, Valentin provokes Méphistophélès into a fight, but Méphistophélès easily breaks the soldier's sword at its first stroke. Now realizing his opponent's true nature, Valentin uses the cruciform hilt of the weapon to fend off evil as he and his colleagues fall in retreat.
The community gathers for a dance. Faust is among them, hoping to encounter Marguerite. She arrives presently, just back from church. Siébel attempts to attract her attention but is prevented by Méphistophélès at every opportunity. Faust introduces himself and gallantly offers to escort Marguerite, but she modestly declines and returns home alone.
Marthe, an older neighbor, observes her gaiety. Hardly concerned by the mysterious nature of the gift, she advises Marguerite to keep the jewels, as they must be from an admirer. Méphistophélès returns with Faust and discloses that Marthe's missing husband is, in fact, dead. The widow experiences a moment of remorse but is easily comforted by the alluring stranger. As Faust makes overtures to Marguerite, Marthe and Méphistophélès explore their new feelings together.
Marguerite unveils her sad lot to Faust. With both mother and sister gone, and Valentin off to battle, she is completely alone in the wo rld. Faust offers his love and protection, but Marguerite is guarded. She puts her faith in a daisy and begins a childish game of plucking the petals. Only when the flower reveals the depth of Faust's passion does her resolve begin to crumble, and the scene ends with a rapturous love duet.
Scene one In her room, Marguerite is taunted by the village girls outside. Faust has deserted her just as she is about to give birth to their child. She laments the consequences of her actions. Siébel, her only remaining friend, vows to kill Faust for his heartless behavior. She begs him to let it be – in spite of all that has happened, her love for Faust has not diminished.
Scene two Marguerite prays for salvation at the local church, but Méphistophélès torments her with a hellish fate – God has turned his back in her hour of need. A mortal struggle between redemption and eternal damnation ensues as invisible voices from the depths of the earth offer Marguerite little comfort.
Scene one As a distraction, Méphistophélès invites Faust to celebrate the feast of Walpurgis Night, the evening before the first of May. In the darkness of the Harz Mountains, a witches' sabbath is in progress. Fearful at first, Faust eventually joins in toasting everlasting oblivion with the attending witches, demons and courtesans of antiquity, who dance an infernal ballet. In the drunken chaos, Faust sees another vision of Marguerite, this time on death row with a blood-red circle around her neck. With sudden sobriety, Faust vows to set her free.
Scene two Marguerite has been imprisoned for the crime of infanticide. Faust gains entry to the prison cell and begs her to escape with him. Demented with guilt, Marguerite refuses his proposal and somberly awaits her march to the scaffold. Méphistophélès is troubled by Faust's insistence that she leave – with the execution, he believes another soul will be placed in his care. He demands that Faust leave at once, or be cast aside. Marguerite now sees the demon for who he really is and implores the celestial powers to save her. As she dies, Méphistophélès is vexed when Marguerite, judged and forgiven of her crimes, ascends to the heavens.
|Stage Director and Choreographer||Doug Varone|
|Set Designer||Andromache Chalfant|
|Costume Designer||James Schuette|
|Lighting Designer||Jane Cox|
|Wig and Makeup Designer||Jason Allen|
|Assistant Director||Octavio Cardenas|
|Faust, an aging philosopher||Paul Groves|
|Marguerite, a village girl||Judith Howarth|
|Valentin, brother of Marguerite||Lucas Meachem|
|Siébel, friend of Marguerite||Nicole Percifield|
|Marthe Schwerlein, Marguerite's neighbor||Kathleen Humphrey|
|Wagner, friend of Valentin||John David Boehr|
|Dancers||Doug Varone and Dancers|
Young girls, laborers, students,
burghers, matrons, invisible
demons, church choir, witches,
queens and courtesans of
antiquity, celestial voices
John David Boehr (Wagner)
Octavio Cardenas (assistant director)
Octavio Cardenas joins The Minnesota Opera's Resident Artist Program after having served as assistant director for productions of Così fan tutte and La traviata for Chautauqua Opera and Die Fledermaus at Austin Lyric Opera. He has also directed productions of Plump Jack, The Impresario, The Elixir of Love and Street Scene and assisted on The Turn of the Screw and La chute de la maison Uscher for Butler Opera Center. Other directing credits include The Elixir of Love for Guadalajara Opera, Beyond Therapy for Los Angeles' Little Theater and Odd Couple for UCLA.
Mr. Cardenas is also a talented singer and actor, having performed in the films‘Til parole do us part, Bottom Feeders and Gemini Friday; in the plays Beaux Stratagem (Scrub), Fashion (Mr. Twinkle), Summertime (Edmund), Orestes 2.0 (Forensic/Phrygian), Dream Play (the Lawyer), 4 a.m. (Doc) and Butterfly Kiss(Ross Sloan); and having sung the roles of Strephon in Iolanthe for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Shreveport, Sciarrone in Tosca for Shreveport Opera, Marquese d'Orbigny in La traviata and Cascada in The Merry Widow for Guadalajara Opera and Vuzzachio in L'infedelta fedele and Beto in Gianni Schicchifor USC Opera. Mr. Cardenas holds a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from the Centenary College of Louisiana, a Master of Fine Arts in acting from UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and is the recent recipient of a DMA in opera directing from the University of Texas at Austin.
Andromache Chalfant (set designer)
Andromache Chalfant is a set designer for theater and opera. She is based in New York City. Andromache has collaborated with theater artists such as Mark Wing-Davey, Les Waters, Sarah Ruhl, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Her recent work includes: Opera: Handel's Semele (Boston Lyric Opera), Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio (Opera Omaha), Dominick Argento's Postcard From Morocco (The Curtis Institute), Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti and Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (The Berkshire Opera Festival) Theater: Samuel Beckett's Endgame (A.R.T. upcoming), Christina Anderson's Inked Baby (Playwrights Horizons upcoming), Jose Rivera's School of the Americas (Henry Hewes Nomination for Set Design), Stephen Adly Guirgus' The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (LAByrinth and The Public Theater), Anne Washburn's The Internationalist (The Vineyard Theater) Regional: John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation (Old Globe Theater, San Diego), Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House (Cleveland Playhouse), Clifford Odet's Awake and Sing! (Arena Stage), Morris Panych's VIGIL (Westport Country Playhouse), and Craig Wright's Lady (Asolo Repertory).
Andromache is a member of LAByrinth Theater Company. She has been a guest artist/lecturer at Sarah Lawrence and NYU. She received a BFA in Visual Art from Bennington College and a master's in Scenic Design from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Jane Cox (lighting designer)
Jane Cox is a lighting designer based in New York City. Previous work with Doug Varone includes Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man at The Minnesota Opera, Invisible Man for Aquila Theatre, and many designs for Doug Varone and Dancers (including Boats Leaving, for which she was awarded a Bessie in 2007). For The Minnesota Opera, Jane has also designed Lakmé. Broadway: Dame Edna and Come Back Little Sheba. Other New York theater includes designs for the Public Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music; Playwrights Horizons; Signature Theatre; NYTW. Jane also designed for the Guthrie, McCarter, Glimmerglass Opera and Juilliard Opera, among many others. She also teaches design for theater at Princeton University and lighting for dance at Sarah Lawrence College.
Paul Groves (Faust)
American tenor Paul Groves enjoys an important international career, performing on the stages of all the world's leading opera houses and concert halls.
Paul Groves begins the 2008-2009 season with a return to the Grand Théâtre de Genève for performances of one of his signature roles, the title role in Berlioz's La damnation de Faust. The tenor later portrays Goethe's tragic figure again – this time in a new production of Gounod's Faust with The Minnesota Opera. Other operatic highlights of this season include three role debuts – all in title roles – which begin with performances of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex in Japan under the direction of Charles Dutoit and are followed by Mozart's Idomeneo in his return to the Opéra de Paris and Massenet's Werther in a new production with Opéra National du Rhin, Strasbourg. He ends the season with a new production of Alceste for Santa Fe Opera. Paul Groves can be heard in extensively in concert this season, including performances of Beethoven's Missa solemnis with the Orchestre de Paris and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, a recital at New York's Carnegie Hall (Zankel), and performances of Berlioz's Requiem with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit.
Paul Groves began the 2007-2008 season with a return to the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, for appearances as Pylade in Iphigénie en Tauride. He then returned to his home in New Orleans, Louisiana for performances of the title role in Gounod's Faust before reprising the role of Pylade with the Metropolitan Opera. MET audiences saw the tenor again last season in performances of Jianli in Tan Dun's The First Emperor, a role Mr. Groves created at the MET in 2006. He returned to Houston Grand Opera for the role of Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail before traveling to Paris for performances of Julian in Charpentier's Louise with Opéra National de Paris. Highlights of Mr. Groves' work in concert this season included performances of L'enfance du Christ at the Tonhalle-Orchester, Zurich, the title role in La damnation de Faust for the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and performances in New York with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society.
Paul Groves is well-known to audiences throughout Europe and North America. He made his debut at La Scala in 1995 as Tamino in the opening night performance of Die Zauberflöte, Riccardo Muti conducting, and he has returned in several roles, including Renaud in Gluck's Armide and Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore – the first American tenor invited to La Scala for this role. Audiences in Paris have seen the tenor often since his debut in 1996 season when he appeared as Tom Rakewell at the Théâtre Musical de Paris – Châtelet in a new Sellers/Salonen production of The Rake's Progress. He has returned to the Châtelet as Admète in their season-opening production of Alceste, led by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and in the title role in Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict. Mr. Groves made his debut with the Opéra de Paris as Fenton in a new production of Falstaff, and he soon returned for performances as Tamino, Berlioz's Faust, Nemorino, and Julian in a new production of Charpentier's Louise. The role of Tamino was also the vehicle for his debut at London's Royal Opera, Covent Garden. He has since returned to perform the role of Pylade in Iphigénie en Tauride opposite Simon Keenlyside and Susan Graham. He has performed often with the Vienna Staatsoper in roles including Tamino, Nemorino, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Flamand in Capriccio, Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier. He also appeared in Vienna as Camille in a new production of Die lustige Witwe, and as Carlo in a new production of Linda di Chamounix, opposite Thomas Hampson and Edita Gruberova. Mr. Groves has appeared frequently with the Salzburg Festival since his debut there in 1995 as Don Ottavio under the baton of Daniel Barenboim, including his portrayal of the title role in a critically-acclaimed new production of La damnation de Faust as well as performances as Pylade, Belmonte, and Tamino in the 2006 Mozart anniversary season in performances led by Riccardo Muti. Mr. Groves made his debut with the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1998 as Des Grieux in a new production of Manon and with the Netherlands Opera in 2001 as Bénédict. His debut with the Bayerische Staatsoper was in 1997 as Don Ottavio, and he has returned to Munich for performances as Tamino and as Arturo in a new production of I puritani, opposite Edita Gruberova.
Paul Groves came to national attention as a winner of the Met's National Council Auditions in 1991. A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Young Artists Development Program, Mr. Groves made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1992 as the Steuermann in Der fliegende Holländer. Mr. Groves returned to the MET for performances as Camille de Rosillon in their new production of The Merry Widow, opposite Placido Domingo and Frederica von Stade; Ferrando in a new production of Così fan tutte; Tom Rakewell in The Rake's Progress; Lysander in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream; Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail; Fenton; and Don Ottavio in nationally-televised season-opening performances of Don Giovanni opposite Bryn Terfel and Renee Fleming. In 2006, he created the role of Jianli in the world premiere of Tan Dun's The First Emperor, opposite Placido Domingo, and he returned to the MET in 2008 for further performances of this role. He has also appeared with the Metropolitan Opera for productions of Ariadne auf Naxos , Il barbiere di Siviglia, Death in Venice, Fidelio, Lucia di Lammermoor, Parsifal, Der Rosenkavalier, Les Troyens, Iphigénie en Tauride and The Ghosts of Versailles. His Metropolitan Opera collaborations with James Levine have led to recordings of Rigoletto, Parsifal, and Idomeneo for Deutsche Grammophon, Der fliegende Holländer for SONY, and Manon Lescaut for Decca. In 2001 Mr. Groves made his debut at Buenos Aires' Teatro Colon as Tom Rakewell opposite Samuel Ramey, and continued there with performances of Camille de Rosillon with Frederica von Stade. Paul Groves made his debut with San Francisco Opera as Fenton, and he returned in subsequent seasons for performances as Ferrando, Belmonte and Pylade. His debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago was in 1998 as Nadir in a new production of Les pêcheurs de perles, and audiences in Chicago saw him in later seasons as Tamino and as Pylade. Los Angles Opera audiences first saw him in season-opening performances of the title role in La damnation de Faust, opposite Samuel Ramey and Denyce Graves, and he recently returned for performances as Fritz in a new production of La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein directed by famed Hollywood director Garry Marshall. His company debut with The Washington Opera was in 2006 as Nemorino, and he recently appeared in his home state of Louisiana for his first performances of the title roles in Les contes d'Hoffmann and Gounod's Faust with New Orleans Opera.
A gifted musician, Paul Groves is continually in demand for concerts with the world's leading orchestras and conductors. In 2003 Mr. Groves made his debut with the New York Philharmonic as soloist in Berlioz's Requiem in performances conducted by Charles Dutoit, and he returned for performances of the title roles in La damnation de Faust, and Candide, opposite Kristin Chenowith. His debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra came also in 2003 in the world premiere of John Harbison's Requiem conducted by Bernard Haitink in performances in Boston and at New York's Carnegie Hall. He recently returned to Boston for performances in Schönberg's Gurrelieder and Tippet's A Child of Our Time as well as La damnation de Faust, all led by James Levine. Mr. Groves performed Stravinsky's Rossignol with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Philadelphia Orchestra led by Christoph Eschenbach. The tenor made his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in performances as Berlioz's Faust, led by Christoph von Dohnanyi, and he has since appeared with them in performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 also under the direction of von Dohnanyi at Cleveland's Severence Hall and at New York's Carnegie Hall. Other recent performances at Carnegie Hall include Berlioz's L'enfance du Christ with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and Sir Charles Mackerras. The tenor made his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of works of Mozart and Britten led by Esa-Pekka Salonen, and soon returned for performances of Haydn's Die Schöpfung and Stravinsky's Les noces, also under Esa-Pekka Salonen. The works of Benjamin Britten figure prominently in Paul Groves' concert work and include performances of Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the Atlanta Symphony and at the Caramoor Festival led by Donald Runnicles, and the composer's War Requiem in performances with the St Louis Symphony and at the Festival de St. Denis in Paris, led by Kurt Masur.
Paul Groves made his debut with the Munich Philharmonic in performances of Haydn's Die Schöpfung under the direction of James Levine. He made his debut with the Bayerische Rundfunk in performances of Rossini's Stabat mater led by Riccardo Muti and recently returned to Munich for performances of Britten's St. Nicholas Cantata. He has sung Berlioz's Te Deum with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra led by Seiji Ozawa, as well as the BBC Symphony led by Sir Colin Davis. He appeared with the BBC Symphony again for Szymanowski's Symphony No. 3 led by Sir Andrew Davis, and in 2003 he appeared with Maestro Davis in a performance of Stravinsky's Perséphone at the BBC Proms. The tenor's debut at the Proms was in Haydn's Die Schöpfung in performances led by Sir Charles Mackerras, and he was first seen with the London Philharmonic as Berlioz's Faust. In 2005, Mr. Groves sang his first performances of The Dream of Gerontius, led by Mark Elder, at London's Royal Albert Hall. Mr. Groves made his debut with the Orchestre de Paris in performances of Mahler's Das Klagende Lied, and he was first seen with L'orchestre de la Radio France in performances of Beethoven's Christ on the Mount of Olives at the Montpellier Festival. He appeared as soloist in Berlioz's Requiem with the Orchestre National du Capitôle de Toulouse under the direction of Michel Plasson and returned for performances of the title role in La damnation de Faust. He was also invited to perform the role with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Valery Gergiev. Mr. Groves' debut at the Festival de Saint Denis was in performances of Haydn's Creation, and he appeared in concerts of Mozart's Requiem at La Scala in a memorial performance for Giuseppe Sinopoli led by Riccardo Muti. He appeared with the Czech Philharmonic in performances of Beethoven's Missa solemnis led by Sir Charles Mackerras.
Paul Groves has appeared frequently in recital throughout the United States and Europe. In 1996, the tenor gave his New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall with James Levine accompanying him at the piano, and he has returned twice to Lincoln Center's prestigious "Art of the Vocal Recital" series accompanied by Malcolm Martineau. He has also appeared in recital at Teatro alla Scala, Amsterdam's renowned Concertgebouw, Brussels' Théâtre de la Monnaie and London's prestigious Wigmore Hall.
In addition to his several recordings with
Maestro Levine, Paul Groves' performances in the Salzburg Festival's
productions of Die Zauberflöte and La
damnation de Faust were recorded for release on DVD by Deutsche
Grammophon and Naxos Records, respectively. He recently recorded Roger Water's
new opera Ça Ira opposite Bryn Terfel for SONY Classics
as well as Ravel cantatas with Michel Plasson for EMI Classics. He can be heard
as Tebaldo in Teldec Classic's recording of I Capuleti e i Montecchi,
led by Donald Runnicles. He also recorded the role of Belmonte in a video and
audio recording of Die Entführung aus dem Serail,
filmed in Istanbul and led by Sir Charles Mackerras, for the Telarc label. Mr.
Groves' performances as Admète in Alceste at London's
Barbican Centre were recorded for CD and DVD on the Philips Classics label. In
2002, Paul Groves made his debut at the Saito Kinen Festival in performances of
Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 under the baton of Seiji
Ozawa, recorded on DVD for Philips Classics. In 2003, Mr. Groves completed a
solo recording of songs by Henri Duparc for Naxos Records. In 2004, Mr. Groves
was invited to perform at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in front of a
live national television audience.
Judith Howarth (Marguerite)
Judith Howarth studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. After graduating, she was immediately engaged as a principal by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. During nine seasons there she sang many roles including Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Iris in Semele, Musetta in La bohème, Liù in Turandot, Gilda in Rigoletto, Morgana in Alcina, Norina in Don Pasquale, Cressida in Troilus and Cressida and Marguerite in Les Huguenots.
Subsequent engagements world-wide include Musetta in Cincinnati, Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes in Toulouse and Santiago de Chile, Christine in Intermezzo and Aithra in Die ägyptische Helena in Santa Fe, Nedda I pagliacci and all four soprano roles in Les contes d'Hoffmann for Florida Grand Opera, Olga in Fedora for the Washington National Opera, Violetta in La traviata for The Minnesota Opera, English National Opera and Glyndebourne, Marzelline in Fidelio, Stonatrilla in L'opera seria and Liù at the Staatsoper, Berlin, Dalila in Samson (Handel) for the Netherlands Opera, Marie in La fille du régiment in Geneva, Pamina in Strasbourg, and Leïla in The Pearl Fishers, Fiorilla in The Turk in Italy and Madame Mao in Nixon in China for ENO.
On the concert platform Judith has toured with Plácido Domingo to Seattle, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Brussels and Amsterdam. She sang Strauss's Four Last Songs in Vienna conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Her festival appearances include Aix-en-Provence, The Proms, Tanglewood, Edinburgh and Salzburg. She has worked with many distinguished conductors including Georges Prêtre, Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Georg Solti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Charles Mackerras and Seiji Ozawa.
Judith has appeared on television all over the world and has a discography of more than 30 recordings including Troilus and Cressida, conducted by Richard Hickox, which won Gramophone Magazine's Opera of the Year. Her latest recordings, released this year, are Il segreto di Susanna with the Oviedo Filarmonia under Friedrich Haider and the title role in Mercadante's Maria Stuarda, regina di Scozia for Opera Rara.
Recently she has sung Butterfly in a new production, staged for her by Colin Graham, at The Minnesota Opera, Gilda for ENO, Elvira in I puritani with Chelsea Opera Group, Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem in Florence under Stefan Anton Reck, a repeat of her critically acclaimed performance of Madame Mao in Nixon in China for the Greek National Opera, Catherine in La jolie fille de Perth with Chelsea Opera Group, Britten's War Requiem and Mahler's Symphony No. 8 at the Three Choirs Festival and, most recently, Parasha in Stravinsky's Mavra in Athens. She has just sung the title role in Anthony Minghella's production of Madama Butterfly for ENO and plans include Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony in Gloucester Cathedral, The Creation in Dundee, Baroness Freimann in Der Wildschütz at this year's Buxton Festival, Marguerite in Faust for The Minnesota Opera and a revival of Madama Butterfly for ENO.
Kathleen Humphrey (Marthe)
Mezzo-soprano Kathleen Humphrey has performed extensively as a singer and an actress in many musical theater and concert venues. Recent highlights include the roles of Miss Bentson in Lakmé and Eva Lückes in Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man and covering the role of Granma in The Minnesota Opera's world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath, singing Mozart's Requiem under Osmo Vanska with the Minnesota Orchestra, and portraying the roles of Mrs. Fred, Jane and Mrs. Dilber at the Guthrie Theater in their beloved annual presentation of A Christmas Carol. In 2003 she also made her Chanhassen Dinner Theatres debut singing The Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music where she was also recently seen performing the role of The Wardrobe in Beauty and the Beast.
Among her many other roles with The Minnesota Opera, she was recently seen as Suzuki in Madame Butterfly, Fosca's Mother in Passion, Offred's Mother in the North American premiere of A Handmaid's Tale, and Alma March in Little Women. Other favorite roles include Emma Jones in Street Scene, Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro, Siébel in Faust, Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Mercédès in Carmen, First Lady in The Magic Flute and Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann.
Some other favorite engagements are Woman No. 2 in The Grapes of Wrath for Utah Symphony & Opera, Mrs. Gibbs in Our Town with Skylark Opera, the title roles in La belle Hélène, The Italian Girl in Algiers, and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein with North Star Opera, Marian Paroo in The Music Man with Dorian Opera, traveling with The Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis to Japan to perform Dr. Suess' beloved The 500 Hats of Bartolomew Cubbins and performing Zerlina in Don Juan Giovanni with Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis and at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California.
Ms. Humphrey has also performed with Berkshire Opera (MA) with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and with the Fargo-Moorhead, South Dakota and Cedar Rapids Symphonies, among others, and she is a soloist at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.
Kyle Ketelsen (Méphistopélès)
"Far and away the most commanding performance was that of bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello. He has a naturally beautiful, superbly trained voice, rich and clear at the low end, smooth and flexible in the middle range and effortless at the top. Good as his sound was, his acting was better. Ketelsen fully realized the role. He was rewarded at the curtain-call by an uninhibited outburst of cheering and a standing ovation."
– Jess Anderson, OPERA NEWS
American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is in regular demand by the world's leading opera companies and orchestras for his vibrant and handsome stage presence and his distinctive vocalism. Following his return to the Royal Opera, Covent Garden as Figaro under Sir Colin Davis, Kyle began the 2006-2007 season with the opening night of the Los Angeles Philharmonic singing de Falla's El Retablo del Maese Pedro under Esa-Pekka Salonen. He sang under Sir Colin again in his debut with the Orchestre National de France in Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette.
Following a tour of Europe under Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra in a Mozart anniversary year program, Kyle made his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in Haydn's Harmoniemesse conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. Later in the season, he made his San Francisco Opera debut as Escamillo in Carmen and returned to the Royal Opera as Zoroastro in Handel's Orlando under Sir Charles Mackerras. Also in the 2006-2007 season, Kyle brought his renowned Figaro to Boston for his debut at Boston Lyric Opera under Stephen Lord, and made a return to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Leporello, with Ivor Bolton at the helm.
The 2007-2008 season brings debuts with Hamburg Staatsoper as the Four Villains in Les contes d'Hoffmann, and with Los Angeles Opera and Opera Liceu, Barcelona, as Leporello. In addition, Kyle will return to Covent Garden for Escamillo. In concert he will perform Stravinsky's Les noces with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under maestro Salonen.
Kyle's recordings include a live performance of Haydn's The Creation with the Music of the Baroque orchestra in Chicago, conducted by Jane Glover. This is released under the orchestra's own label.
Kyle Ketelsen has garnered great critical acclaim for his portrayals with the major American theaters. His Lyric Opera of Chicago debut was as Masetto in a new production of Don Giovanni conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and directed by Peter Stein with a cast including Bryn Terfel, Karita Mattila and Susan Graham. In recent seasons, he has sung Mozart's Figaro for his New York City Opera debut and at Opera Pacific, Leporello with Glimmerglass Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre, Escamillo in Carmen with Washington National Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Michigan Opera Theatre, the Teatro Real, Madrid and Orlando Opera and his debut performances of Gounod's Méphistophélès in Faust with Michigan Opera Theatre. Other roles in Washington include Oroveso in Norma , the Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte and the Villains in Les contes d'Hoffmann and Abimelech in Samson et Dalila. He has also sung Colline in La bohème with Opera Pacific, Michigan Opera Theatre and in St. Louis. Other repertoire includes Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Ferrando in Il trovatore.
In concert, Kyle has collaborated with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Berlioz's Lélio and Kaija Saariaho's Cinq reflets au l'amour de loin. Among others, he has performed with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Pasadena Symphony, the Pacific Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony and numerous other organizations throughout the Midwest. He made his Carnegie Hall debut with Haydn's The Creation with the Oratorio Society of New York and repeated this work with Music of the Baroque in Chicago. His concert repertoire also includes the Verdi Requiem, Brahms Deutsches Requiem, Handel Messiah, Fauré Requiem, Dvorák Te Deum, the Bach St. Matthew and St. John Passions and the Mozart C-Minor Mass and Mahler's Symphony No. 8.
Kyle has won First Prize in several international vocal competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation (Career Grant), the George London Foundation, the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, the Sullivan Foundation, Opera Index, the MacAllister Awards, Fort Worth Opera, National Opera Association, Connecticut Opera and the Liederkranz Foundation.
Kyle is a native of Clinton, Iowa. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa where he studied with Albert Gammon and did his graduate studies at Indiana University where he studied with Giorgio Tozzi. He currently resides in Wisconsin with his wife and children.
Lucas Meachem (Valentin)
Lucas Meachem begins the 2008-2009 season with a return to San Francisco Opera as Fritz/Frank in Korngold's Die tote Stadt, conducted by Donald Runnicles. Additionally, Mr. Meachem will debut with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich and Valentin in Faust with The Minnesota Opera. Mr. Meachem will sing the title role in Don Giovanni for the first time with Santa Fe Opera and New Orleans Opera, appear as the baritone soloist in Carmina burana with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and will take part in opera concerts at Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall and Chicago's Orchestra Hall, conducted by Giovanni Reggioli.
In the 2007-2008 season, Lucas Meachem made his Metropolitan Opera debut in the role of General Rayevsky in Prokofiev's War and Peace. Additionally, for the Florida Grand Opera, he performed the role of Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles, as well as Valentin in Faust for New Orleans Opera. In concert, he appeared with the Florence Maggio Musicale in the Fauré Requiem under Seiji Ozawa, with the American Symphony Orchestra, in the U.S. premiere of Ferdinand Hiller's oratorio The Destruction of Jerusalem at Avery Fisher Hall, made his New York Philharmonic debut in Bach's St. Matthew Passion under Kurt Masur, Carmina burana with St. Louis Symphony and the Fauré Requiem with Pittsburgh Symphony.
Mr. Meachem is a 2005 Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera and has appeared with that company in the title role ofEugene Onegin and Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Additional recent engagements included Papageno and Schaunard inLa bohème with Palm Beach Opera, as well as the role of Silvandre in the world premiere of Pastorale by Gerard Pesson at the Staatstheater Stuttgart. Meachem has been a winner in many competitions across the United States, including the 2001 Mario Lanza Competition, the 2002 Jessie Kneisel competition, the 2001 and 2002 West Palm Beach Opera Competitions, the 2001 Opera Index Competition, the 2002 West Palm Beach Opera Competitions, the 2001 Opera Index Competition, the 2002 George London Competition and the 2002 Bel Canto Competition. He has also been a winner in the Metropolitan National Council Competition in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2001 and 2002 and won an Encouragement award at the 2002 Regional Metropolitan National Competition in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jean-Yves Ossonce (conductor)
Jean-Yves Ossonce began his career in 1991 in Great Britain, where he was regularly invited to conduct BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He further conducted major British opera companies such as Opera North (L'étoile, La bohème directed by Phyllida Lloyd), Welsh National Opera (Béatrice et Bénédict), English National Opera (Maria Stuarda) and the Edinburgh Festival (Briséis by Chabrier and Pénélope by Fauré).
During the same period, he was regularly invited to conduct in France: Die Fledermaus, Mireille, Manon (with L. Vaduva), Mignon (with B. Uria-Monzon), Carmen with L'Opéra d'Avignon; Mignon, Manon and Tosca with L'Opéra de Metz; Macbeth with L'Opéra de Nancy; Les contes d'Hoffmann and Madame Butterfly with L'Opéra de Caen; La vie parisienne with L'Opéra de Lyon; Un ballo in maschera, Les noces de Figaro and Briséis with L'Opéra de Rennes, Un ballo in maschera, La traviata, Così fan tutte, and Susannah (Floyd) with L'Opéra de Nantes; and Tosca, La traviata, Faust, Roméo et Juliette, La Cenerentola, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Don Pasquale (with G. Bacquier), Norma, Il tabarro, Gianni Schicchi, Turandot, La rondine, Pelléas et Mélisande, Mahagonny and Macbeth with L'Opéra de Tours.
In 1999, Mo. Ossonce was appointed Artistic Director of L'Opéra de Tours and L'Orchestre Symphonique Region Centre–Tours, where he conducted several opera productions and concerts while continuing his career as guest conductor on several major international stages.
Among the productions he conducted in L'Opéra de Tours are Pelléas et Mélisande, Der Freischütz, Werther (French premiere of the baritone version), Tristan and Isolde, Un ballo in maschera, Don Carlos, Falstaff, L'amour masqué (Messager/Guitry) created in 2005 and revived at the Edinburgh Festival and more recently Le Pays from Ropartz.
In his latest seasons, Jean-Yves conducted Hamlet directed by Nicolas Joel at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Les contes d'Hoffmann in Berlin Deutsche Oper, Die Zauberflote at the Welsh National Opera, L'amour masqué at the Edinburgh Festival, G. Strehler's productions of Così fan tutte at the Opéra de Lausanne, La bohème in Hamburg Staatsoper, a concert with Natalie Dessay at La Monnaie de Bruxelles, Mignon at the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse and with Opéra d'Avignon, Béatrice et Bénédict at the Opéra de Bordeaux and the Opera de Nancy, La bohème and a new production of Simon Boccanegra at the Opéra de Nantes-Angers, Norma at the Opéra de Montpellier, a concert at the Theatre Herode Atticus in Athens with June Anderson and Beatrice Uria Monzon, Roméo et Juliette with L'Opéra de Montréal; in June 2008 he conducted Lucia di Lammermoor with Natalie Dessay for his debut with the San Francisco Opera.
In concert, Jean-Yves Ossonce has conducted the Toulouse Orchestre du Capitole, L'Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Leipzig MDR Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Varsovie National Philharmonic. Soloists he has worked with include Anne Gastinel, Xavier Phillips, Brigitte Engerer, Gerard Causse, Renaud Capucon, Tzimon Barto, Olivier Chablier, Frank Braley and Jean-Francois Heisser.
Among his upcoming projects are Tosca with L'Opéra de Nantes-Angers, Faust with The Minnesota Opera, the world premiere of Pastorale (an opera by Gerard Pesson) in the Théâtre du Chatelet Paris, L'étoile with Grand Théâtre de Genève, Madame Butterfly at L'Opéra de Lausanne, Cendrillon with L'Opéra de Montreal, Haydn's Armida, Ariadne auf Naxos and Mireille with L'Opéra de Tours.
Jean-Yves Ossonce has several recordings: the complete symphonies of Alberic Magnard (2 CD), Suites for Orchestra by Massenet, Reynaldo Hahn piano concertos and Le Pays, distinguished by Classica as one of the best recordings of 2002 and which received the Timbre de Platine of International Opera Magazine and the Deutschen Schallplaten Preis.
James Schuette (Costume Designer)
Doug Varone (stage director and choreographer)
An exceptionally fluent dancemaker. There's an emotional breadth sometimes missing from so many other greats in modern dance. Varone puts the beating heart at the center of the work.
– Washington Post
Thrilling, mesmerizing work.
– Village Voice
Award-winning choreographer and director Doug Varone works in dance, theater, opera, film, television and fashion. By any measure, Varone's output is extraordinary for its emotional range, kinetic breadth, and the diversity of platforms on which he stages it.
Works for Doug Varone and Dancers, founded in 1986, have recently been commissioned by University of Akron/EJ Thomas Hall (Alchemy), Bard Summerscape Festival (Victorious), The American Dance Festival (Boats Leaving – a multi-Bessie award winner) and premiered at Brooklyn Academy of Music (Dense Terrain), the Joyce Theater (Lux) and the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College (Castles). His Bottomland was the critic's pick for Dance in America's "Wolf Trap's Face of America," nationally broadcast on PBS in 2008.
Varone's direction and choreography of Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice, originally produced by Lincoln Center (NYC), garnered him a 2006 Obie Award. For New York's Metropolitan Opera, Varone has choreographed new productions of Le sacre du printemps, Les Troyens, Salome and the world premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. Other opera choreography includes Die Walküre (Washington Opera); II viaggio a Reims (New York City Opera); the American premieres of George Antheil's Transatlantic and Ricky Ian Gordon's debut production of The Grapes of Wrath (The Minnesota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera). As a director and choreographer, he has staged Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice and Il barbiere di Siviglia for Opera Colorado, Laurent Petitgirard's Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man and the 2009 production of Gounod's Faust for The Minnesota Opera.
Varone's theater credits include choreography for Broadway, at Baltimore's Center Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, Princeton's McCarter Theater, Music Theater Group, The Vineyard Theatre and Via Theater. He choreographed and directed the Aquila Theatre Company's The Invisible Man. He staged several seasons of designer Geoffrey Beene's couture runway shows in NYC. Film credits include choreography for the Patrick Swayze film, One Last Dance.
Varone has created works for the Limon Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Rambert Dance Company (London), Dancemakers (Canada), Batsheva Dance Company (Israel), Bern Ballet (Switzerland), An Creative (Japan), Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Colorado Ballet, and Ailey II, among others. His dances have been staged on more than 30 college and university programs.
Born and raised in Syosset, NY, Varone received his BFA from Purchase College where he was awarded the Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. Honors also include a Guggenheim Fellowship and two New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for Sustained Achievement in Choreography, and for his 2006 Boats Leaving. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts since 1988.
Music by Charles-François Gounod
Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
after Michel Carré’s Faust et Marguerite (1850)
and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play Faust, Part I (1808),
in the French translation by Gérard de Nerval (1828)
World premiere at Théâtre Lyrique, Paris
March 19, 1859
Faust's legendary deal with the Devil has intrigued the creative mind for centuries, perhaps reaching its zenith in the music, visual arts and literature of the Romantic period. The story can be traced back to early 16th-century Germany, an era of religious turmoil and upheaval, when it was commonly believed Satan was just around the corner. A certain Dr. Johann Faust was educated at the University of Heidelberg and studied divinity at Wittenberg, but was forced to flee under suspicion of dabbling in the black arts. (Faust made no bones about it – he boldly referred to the Devil as his "brother-in-law" and the spirit of Helen of Troy as his mistress). It is said that he met with a violent end, perhaps by a sleight of alchemy gone awry.
Such a colorful figure hardly could have gone unnoticed, and various treatments of the good doctor's life began to emerge almost immediately after his death. Festival puppet plays communicated the morality tale to those who couldn't read, and printed inexpensive chapbooks began to circulate at county fairs for those who could. Johann Spies' Historia von Doktor Johann Fausten (1587) emerged as a popular version (sensationally translated into English as The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Dr. John Faustus) and inspired a dramatic interpretation by Shakespeare's contemporary, Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593). Unlike Speis' moralizing fable, Marlowe crafted his play with a slightly lighter tone. In this case it is Faust who aggressively pursues a contract with the Devil, and with Mephistopheles as his guide, he makes his way through the courts of Europe, creating tricks and feats of magic for heads of state. Throughout he is tormented by two angels – one good and one bad –and repentance is always a viable option (at least until the very end). Oddly out of character, Faust chooses that particular moment to make a pathetic plea to God for salvation, but it is too late – the Devil takes his soul as per their agreement. A moral message concludes the drama.
Germany's first dramatist of note, Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781) left his Faust incomplete, but the fragments reveal the protagonist, in conjuring demons, as pursuing knowledge and truth in the spirit of Enlightenment. The ending is inconclusive; it seems Lessing may have intended Faust's spiritual journey and eventual damnation to be only a dream – a stern warning from Providence for desiring to know too much.
Enter Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), a member of the Sturm und Drang movement, who bridged the gap between Enlightenment and Romanticism with his play Faust. The subject haunted him for most of his life, producing a drama in two stages (1808; 1832). Part I opens with a wager between God and Mephistopheles: Faust's clouded ways give the Lord much concern, and Mephistopheles bets he can sway Faust completely to the dark side. The learned philosopher is clearly disillusioned with his science and is tempted by youth and the possibility of adventure ("Too old for play; too young to be without love"). The tragedy devoted to Gretchen (a.k.a. Marguerite) is secondary and their meeting is almost accidental. Other elements – her unwanted pregnancy, abandonment and eventual salvation – occur similarly as in the plot of Gounod's opera, although in Goethe's story, Gretchen stands trial for her mother's murder as well. (Hoping to drug her mother so that she can meet Faust on the sly, Gretchen accidentally administers a lethal dosage.) Part II concerns itself with Faust's spiritual journey and infatuation with Helen of Troy. Some 12,000 lines later, he himself is redeemed, rescued from the moral consequences of his sinful acts.
French playwright Michel Carré transformed Goethe's epic drama into a boulevard drama for the Gymnase-Dramatique after a translation by Gérard de Nerval. He took several liberties to make the piece suit the palate of his bourgeois audience. Siébel, only one of several students in Goethe's story, assumes a more prominent role as Marguerite's suitor and Faust's rival. Valentin also is given more dialogue – an earlier entrance establishes him as Marguerite's guardian and protector, eliminating the unseen role of Marguerite's mother. Marguerite is not imprisoned for murder and is punished only for her adulterous affair with Faust.
When Théâtre Lyrique director Léon Carvalho got hold of the play, he insisted on further changes. To keep in strict competition with his main rival, the Opéra, the drama had to have a more tragic and grandiose denouement. Thus, the Walpurgisnacht scene, which has little bearing on the action of the story, was reintroduced from Goethe to provide that extra element of spectacle. Marguerite is tormented for her crime of infanticide but is forgiven – the apotheosis of her ascension to the heavens being yet another scene right out of grand opéra. (It's hardly surprising that when Gounod's Faust plays in Germany, it is invariably titled Margarete, to remind the unwitting viewer that the opera has only a passing similarity to Goethe's treasured masterpiece.)
Toulouse Capital Orchestra and Chorus
EMI Classics CDCC 54228
Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Angel CDMC 69983
Freni, Domingo, Allen, Ghiaurov, Prêtre
Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus
EMI Classics CDCC 47493
Welsh National Opera Orchestra and Chorus
For More Information
A class devoted to Faust will be held on Monday, January 17, 2009.
Special guest speaker will be author and renowned French vocal coach Mary Dibbern.
Call 612-333-6669 for tickets.