Faust: the Devil we carry inside

Faust: el diablo que llevamos dentro
Faust: el diablo que llevamos dentro

The Teatro Real opens the 2018-2019 season on September 19th with Faust, by Charles Gounod, in the presence of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain


  • There will be 13 performances of the opera between September 19 and October 7 in a new co-production by the Teatro Real with the  Dutch National Opera & Ballet,  where it premiered with great success in May 2014.
  • Àlex Ollé, with Scenographer Alfons Flores and Costume Designer Lluc Castells, illustrate the myth of Faust which inspired Goethe’s work, in a tragicomedy production with the distinct trademark of La Fura dels Baus.
  • Israeli conductor Dan Ettinger makes his debut in Madrid, he leads the Coro y Orquesta Titulares of the Teatro Real and two casts headed by tenors Piotr Beczala and Ismael Jordi who will share the lead part.  
  • On October 4, MEZZO  will broadcast the opera performance live.  The recording of this performance will be screened ata later date in cinemas and on Palco Digital,  it will also be released in DVD and distributed internationally in an audio-visual coproduction of the Teatro Real and Jack Fébus.
  • In addition, Radio Clásica, of RNE, will broadcast the opera live on October 4 across Europe via the UER, Unión Europea de Radiodifusión.
  • Faust is the first of 9 new coproductions for this opera season at the Teatro Real. Of these, 6 will premiere in Madrid: TurandotIdomeneoFalstaffCapriccioLa peste  and  Je suis narcissiste will be a world premiere.  The other 2, Only the Sound Remains  and Il trovatore-,   along with Faust,  have been seen already in the theatres which share the coproductions with the Teatro Real.
The Teatro Real opens its 22nd season on September 19 with Faust by Charles Gounod (1818-1893) in a joint production between the Teatro Real  and the  Dutch National  Opera & Ballet, where the production premiered in May 2014 and was enthusiastically applauded.
Faust was first seen at the Théâtre Lyrique of Paris on March 19, 1859 with a lukewarm reception by the French audience. Over time, the opera has taken its place in the repertory despite reticence by the critics who make the mistake of comparing the musical score with the incalculable grandeur of the tragic play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832).
Although it must be admitted that the librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carré limited the story to the pact with the devil and the complicated love story between Faust and Marguerite, avoiding the philosophical complexities of Goethe’s text, it is perhaps the very simplicity and impulsive aspect of the score which is the secret for its success.  
This work, which distances itself from the grandiosity of French grand opéra, has captivated audiences who succumb to the beauty of its melodies, the refined orchestration, the formidable music for the chorus, the contrast between the arias, the sarcasm of some of the dialogues and the delicacy of the most intimate scenes.
This is the fourth time that Àlex Ollé takes on the Faust myth in his career with La Fura dels Baus, after F@ust 3.0 (1997), La damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz (1999) and the film Fausto 5.0 (2001). He departs from a superficial reading of the score to address the question which stands out in Goethe’s work: the search for life not lived. Mephistophélès encourages Faust to satisfy his hidden desires, those impulses which he has sublimated and the perversions he has camouflaged. In effect, Mephistophélès behaves as the alter ego of Faust:  the hidden devil within.
In pure ‘furero’ style, Àlex Ollé and scenographer Alfons Flores make use of dramatic artifices of great theatrical purpose as they put the scientist Faust in a laboratory where he is at work building an enormous computer. It simulates the human brain with its complex thoughts, tricks and fantasies, from which the archetypes of today’s world emerge, these being easily recognisable by the audience.
With Valentina Carrasco (Assistant Stage Director), Lluc Castells (Costume Designer) and Urs Shönebaum (Lighting Designer),  an inventive, sarcastic and spectacular production has been created  for the stage with two different casts led by tenors Piotr Beczala  and Ismael Jordi,  in the main role; sopranos Marina Rebeka   and  Irina Lungu   who portray Marguerite; baritones Luca PisaroniErwin Schrott  and Adam Palca as Méphistophélès, Stéphane Degout  and  John Chest,  as Valentin;  and the sopranos  Serena Malfi  and Annalisa Stroppa  in the transvestite part of Siébel.
The musical direction is by Israeli maestro Dan Ettinger, who makes his debut in Madrid conducting the Coro y Orquesta Titulares del Teatro Real.  Chorus Master Andrés Máspero oversees this very important aspect of Gounod’s score.
The opera was first seen at the Teatro Real in 1865, six years after its frosty première in Paris.  Since then, Faust has fascinated the Madrid audience, it was one of the most performed operas up until the time the theatre closed in 1925.   After the reopening, it was seen in 10 performances in February 2003 in a production which honoured Gotz Friedrich. Faust returns to the Teatro Real 15 years later, in a production with a new look at the never-ending largess of this universal myth.