Michał Znaniecki Stages Faust in Budapest
The Budapest opera house is one of the most beautiful theatres in the world – the neo-Renaissance building, founded by Emperor Franz Joseph I, was ceremoniously opened in 1884 and has hosted many remarkable artists. From 1888 to 1891 it was run by Gustav Mahler. Charles Gounod’s Faust directed by Michał Znaniecki, a former director of the Grand Theatre in Poznań, will have its premiere in the opera house on 17 May 2015. Znaniecki works in Italy, Spain and Argentina, his plays are staged in the Wrocław Opera, Kraków Opera and Teatr Rozrywki in Chorzów.
Ah! Now I’ve done Philosophy,
I’ve finished Law and Medicine,
And sadly even Theology:
Taken fierce pains, from end to end.
Now here I am, a fool for sure!
No wiser than I was before
(Goethe, Faust, part I, translated by A. S. Kline)
Gounod’s Faust, an opera based on the first part of Goethe’s drama, was first staged in 1859 at the Grand Opera in Paris, and is the French opera classic’s crowning achievement. Mephistopheles’ bass part is one of the most spectacular set pieces in the history of opera, in terms of both acting and singing.
The premiere of Faust is being staged in Budapest on the occasion of the Faust225 Festival. The event is organised by the Hungarian State Opera which dedicated 2015 to celebrating the 225th anniversary of the fragments of Goethe’s Faust, Part I. The main theme of the celebrations, a human’s pact with the devil, is presented by five operas and a special concert. Besides Znaniecki’s Faust audiences will watch Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Carl Maria von Weber’s The Freeshooter, Ferruccio Busoni’s Doctor Faustus and Arrigo Boito’s Mephistopheles.
Last year, the Budapest Opera celebrated Richard Strauss’s 150th birthday with an eighteen-day-long festival including six of his operas and a symphonic concert. Next year, the opera will celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death; the organisers plan to arrange a concert and to stage operas and ballets based on the poet’s plays.