Friday, 8 October 2004

Faust - The Opera

From Flashmob The Opera to Faust the Opera. Off to the Royal Opera House where people still dress to attend - many glam outfits were brought out of mothballs even in the Upper Audatorium where I managed to get cheap seats. I followed one woman up the escalator in a 20's style tassled dress that had an opening down to her waist on the back (in hind sight I suspect she'd have been covered in goosepimples by the end of the evening due to the air-con - I had to wear my coat for the second half).

So I thought we wouldn't be able to see anything other than some singing ants running about on a stage way in the distance but actually we had a good view, even if we felt like we would topple off the cliff face at a moment's awkward movement. The lights dimmed and the coughing began. I don't know maybe its the weather and the slightly older crowd but everyone had a cold. Ripples of stiffled coughing through the overture which is quiet. Some shushes. Followed by rustling of cough sweets. One word of advice - strepsils are too noisy for the theatre - you really need something which unwraps rather than something that has to be popped out of tin foil - you won't be able to do this quietly, and doing it slowly only prolongs the agony.

I didn't know the story and hadn't enough change for a programme but managed to follow along anyway.

It goes something like this: Dr Faust is old and dying and sells his soul to the devil for a brief spell of youthfulness so he can find and woo this woman (the devil showed her to him, she was washing - Dr Faust fell for it - you know it can only lead to trouble). The devil's terms are that he will serve Dr Faust in his youth while they are on the earth but thereafter Dr Faust must serve him in Hell. Dr Faust drinks a cup of something and his youth is restored.

Some soldiers are going off to war, one of their sister's is called Margarite and is a virginal beauty and gives her brother a lucky medallion to wear (she wears the other half).

A young man is in love with Margarite and puts posey's of flowers on her step everyday as a sign. Dr Faust with the aid of the devil leaves her a casket full of jewels. She falls for him (partly because the devil has given her a vision and partly because of the wealth). He then appears and seduces her, she resists at first but it is hopeless. They sleep together. The devil's work is done.

Many months go by, Dr Faust has abaondoned Margarite (bad man) and become a heroin addict (I blame the devil), she is pregnant. She goes to the church to pray and the unmerciful God (he looks like the devil but has long waving gray hair rather than straight) refuses to hear her pleas and tells her she will rot in hell. She is shunned by her village. AND THEN her brother comes home and finds her in an advanced state of pregnancy and is in despair at her lack of virtue and the shame she has brought on him (so much weight the poor woman carries on her shoulders). The brother and Dr Faust argue (Dr Faust being the cause of this disrepute brought on his sister) and with the aid of the devil Dr Faust kills the brother. He doesn't forgive his sister even in his dying seconds.

Then the devil commands Dr Faust to come to Hell with him. In Hell, the devil rules the roost and he gets to wear a very stunning sparkly dress and preside over a performance by some ballerinas who on first glance look charming and lovely and frail but soon show their licentious sides and end up in an orgy with the devil's cronies. And during this performance they taunt a pregnant ballerina and run around screaming.

Back in life (as opposed to the afterlife) the poor Margarite has gone mad with the shunning and shame of childbirth out of wedlock and abandonment and has killed her baby and been sent to prison awaiting hanging. The devil sees this as a fitting time for Dr Faust to go back, rescue her and bring her to Hell. She refuses to come despite her love for him. And finally, God shows mercy to her, and Dr Faust (who rapidly becomes old again) banishing the Devil back to Hell.
Apologies, it was a long opera!

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