Recently I listened to Ferruccio Busoni Doktor Faust. The opera was waiting on my recorder. Mezzo.tv broadcasted it nearly 2 years ago. The performance was by Opernhaus Zürich from 2006. Thomas Hampson as Doktor Faust impressed me greatly. I immediately bought the Blu-ray disc. In the past, I have read, re-read and seen several times the play by Goethe. I read the play by Marlowe. I have seen the Faust opera of Gounod. However, never the story of Faust had such an effect on me. I will try to explain.
During the second prologue, Doktor Faust opens a book about black magic. According to the guidelines, he conjures up six spirits and chooses the sixth one Mephistopheles as his servant. He asks him to help him with all his wishes, especially for knowledge. In return, Mephistopheles asks him to serve him after death. First Faust shrinks back. Then he surrenders.
It was at this moment of transition from good to power, that Thomas Hampson as Doktor Faust took me into his mind, his thoughts, his hesitation, his weighing up the pros and cons of having power over other people. I was going with him into the life of Faust, and into my life.
Great art is great because it takes you into your own life, your mind and your thoughts. It gives you another way of thinking about life.
In this performance, the creation of many people is converging: The legend of Faust, the libretto and music of Busoni, and Philipp Jarnach, the co-workers of the Zürich Opernhaus. The cast, the conductor, the orchestra, the direction, all are exceptional, even on a recording, certainly on a Blu-ray disc. The music is beautiful, stirring, impressive, fascinating.
However, it is the opera singer, who can bring these reflections on life into your mind.
Thomas Hampson is Faust for the moment. You can go along with him.
If you are susceptible to this kind of experience, listen to it.
The passage is from Prologue II:
Faust: Töte sie.
Mephistopheles: Es ist geschehn. Möchtet Ihr das Übrige abwarten?
Faust: Kaum! – Ich geb mich dir. Aber jetzt – verlass mich.
Mephistopheles: Nur noch ein Geringes.
Faust: Fort, fort, fort! Ich kann dich nicht ertragen!
Mephistophels: Du musst es lernen.
I will ask Arthaus Musik for uploading a part of this section on YouTube.
Thomas Hampson at the end of the opera, stunning:
Naxos Videos Channel: