Mephistopheles (Mefistofele) synopsis
Music by Arrigo Boito
Libretto by the composer after Goethe
First performed: 1875
(n/a) In Heaven Demons awake to the sound of the heavenly host praising the Lord God. Mephistopheles offers God a wager: that he can capture the soul of Faust. God accepts the challenge. Playful cherubim irritate Mephistopheles before he leaves. The cherubim and a group of penitents join the legions of heaven in a song of praise.
(n/a) Scene 1 A town square, Easter Sunday The Easter festivities are in full swing. Contemplating the pleasures of spring, the elderly Faust in despair watches the celebrations with his student Wagner. Faust notices that a mysterious friar is following them and, unlike Wagner, is suspicious of his identity. Scene 2 Faust’s study, later that evening Faust contemplates eternal peace, unaware that the friar has followed him home and is lurking hidden. When Faust opens a bible the friar cries out and throws off his disguise: Mephistopheles identifies himself as the Spirit of Denial, who seeks the ruin of the world. He offers to serve Faust in exchange for the scholar’s immortal soul. Faust agrees and the pact is made.
(n/a) Scene 1 Martha’s garden Mephistopheles has rejuvenated Faust who woos Margareta, while Mephistopheles dallies with her friend Martha. Faust begs to spend a night with Margareta, and gives her a sleeping potion to drug her mother, assuring her that it is harmless. They make love. Scene 2 The Witches’ Sabbath Accompanied by will-o’-the-wisps, Faust and Mephistopheles climb to the top of the mountain where witches and warlocks are gathering to celebrate the Witches’ Sabbath. Mephistopheles is hailed as king and is presented with a globe symbolizing the world he so despises; he shatters it. As the witches dance and sing themselves into a frenzy, Faust sees a disturbing vision of Margareta.
(n/a) A prison cell Accused of drowning her baby and poisoning her mother, Margareta awaits execution. Mephistopheles brings Faust, who pleads with her to escape. As the hour of execution draws near, Mephistopheles returns. Although at first Margareta believes he is the executioner, she soon recognizes him as an agent of the Devil, invokes heaven’s protection and repents. As she dies, she rejects Faust. Heavenly voices proclaim her salvation.
Back to full list
Already a member?
Sign in now to access the members only area
Not a member?
Join now to receive priority booking, invitations to dress rehearsals and members-only events and much more.