Teacher Resources for Faust

Welcome to Lyric Unlimited’s Teachers Resources for Faust. This is your all-access pass to the world of opera and your insider’s guide to Lyric’s incredible performances. Scroll down to access the following resources to help you prepare your students for your trip to Lyric:

It is our sincere hope you enjoy the performance, and we look forward to seeing you and your students at the opera!

Opera Prep Class - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Opera Prep ClassCost: $175 per 45-minute presentation

Request a Lyric teaching artist to visit your classroom and engage your students with the important themes, musical highlights, and production elements of the opera.

You can request this program on the ticket order form.

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Teacher Guide

Information and activities to help you prepare students for the performance.

Teacher Guide - Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Opera Overview

This GoogleSlides presentation covers essential information your students need to know about the opera. For best results, please view the Opera Overview full screen.

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Musical Highlights

Act 2: “Avant de quitter ces lieux” (“Before leaving this place”)
English Translation
Sung by Valentin
Valentin, a soldier, has been called off to war. He is not worried about what will happen to him in battle, but he is concerned for the wellbeing of his sister, Marguerite, while he is away (or if he dies). This aria is a prayer of protection for her.

Things to listen for:

Act 2: "Le veau d'or est toujours debout!" (“The calf of gold is still standing!” or The Song of the Golden Calf)
English Translation
Sung by Mèphistophélès

Appearing in the midst of a celebration, Mèphistophélès provides wine to the crowd and sings a song about greed and how men are so susceptible to it. The crowd joins him in singing as he declares that Satan is the one controlling it all.

Things to listen for:

Act 3: "Salut! Demeure Chaste Et Pure..." (“Hail, dwelling chaste and pure”)
English Translation
Sung by Faust

As Faust approaches Marguerite's house, he is struck by the pure, humble nature of dwelling and the innocence of the woman who lives inside.

Things to listen for:

Act 3: "Ah, je ris de me voir" (“Ah, I laugh to see myself” or The Jewel Song)
English Translation
Sung by Marguerite

Faust and Mèphistophélès have left a box of jewels at Marguerite’s door. She has never had jewelry before and, at once, tries them on. As she looks at herself in the mirror, she imagines that others do not recognize her and believe that she is a princess.

Things to listen for:

Act 4: "Deposons les armes" (“Let's lay down our weapons!” or The Soldiers' Chorus)
English Translation
Sung by the chorus

Valentin's company is returning from war. They are glad to be able to go home to their mothers and sisters.

Things to listen for:

Studer, Leech, Van Dam, Hampson, cond. Rizzi. (Warner)

Music from Faust provided through generous arrangement with Warner Classics, Official Education and Promotion Music Provider for Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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Historical and Cultural Timeline

Learn more about this opera and events in the world at the time it was written.


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Composer and Librettist Biographies

Performances for Students - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Charles Gounodb. Paris, France, June 17, 1818; d. St. Cloud, France, October 18, 1893

Charles Gounod (sharl goo-NOH) was an atypical candidate for theatrical composition, as he came from generations of silversmiths and painters rather than musicians. Something of a child prodigy (like his idol, Mozart), he was first taught by his domineering mother, who was gifted at both art and music. At 21, he won the coveted Prix de Rome on his second try, but by the time he completed the requisite two-years of study in Rome, he had yet to produce anything that could be considered a masterpiece. Part of his problem was his facility at drawing; his master, the great French painter Ingres, encouraged him to take a second Rome prize in painting. If anything, Gounod was simply too good at too many things, a trait that would dog his entire career.

Gounod’s personality was dominated by mystical Catholicism and the need to please everyone, especially women. He was prey to frequent attacks of severe guilty religious conscience, psychosomatic illnesses, and even nervous breakdowns over his relationships and actions. But he was praised for his personal charm, even, at least initially, by those who later became bitter foes. Throughout his life he wavered between the sacred and the secular, even briefly contemplating the priesthood. Gounod eventually married Anna Zimmermann, the daughter of his piano teacher at the Paris Conservatory. The two poles of his personal life were summed up by malicious friends who referred to him as a “philandering monk.”

Faust (1859) was Gounod’s first operatic success, though it took a few years to achieve universal popularity. It has since been performed over 2,000 times at the Paris Opéra alone. His opera, Roméo et Juliette (1867) was his only unqualified instant success, but Faust remains more popular today. By the end of his career, Gounod had become something of a French national treasure, reaping numerous honorary degrees and positions and finally dying peacefully while reading through the orchestral score of his final work, appropriately enough—a requiem.

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Performances for Students - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Faust LibrettistsPictured from Top to Bottom:

Jules Barbier (JULE bahr-be-AY)
b. Paris, March 8, 1825
d. Paris, January 16, 1901

Michel Carré (mee-SHELL cah-RAY)

b. Besançon, October 21, 1822
d. Paris, June 27, 1872

Jules Barbier and Michel Carré began working with Gounod in 1858. The two, and then after Carré’s death Barbier by himself, would remain Gounod’s primary partners throughout his operatic endeavors. In total, the three collaborated on seven operas, including Faust.

Carré had come to Paris in his late teens from Besançon with the intention of becoming a painter, but he soon switched to a literary path. After producing a verse collection in 1842, he turned to the theater, then found his niche in collaborations. He worked on a variety of plays and librettos with others before teaming up with the man with whom he would create lasting works, Jules Barbier.

Parisian by birth, Barbier focused early on the theater, starting in his teens with light comic fare. As his art developed he produced more substantial pieces, almost always working with a partner. Collaborations were the common practice of the period, possibly because it took the energy and patience of more than one to meet the demands of stars and theater impresarios, who tended to view writers as their servants.

The style of the two men reflected the sensibility of their place and time. Though the pair worked on material from some of the greatest writers, including Goethe, Shakespeare, Molière, La Fontaine, and Pascal, they tended to filter out the more complex aspects of their sources. They were solid craftsmen who understood Parisian tastes and shaped their material accordingly. Refinement was highly valued, and a heavy emphasis on sentiment (sometimes dissolving into the sentimental) tended to replace deeper emotional currents. Starting with Faust, and Roméo et Juliette eight years later, the two men carved out a significant place in the operatic canon.

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Behind the Scenes

A series of articles on the production, rehearsal, and performance process that happens behind the scenes at Lyric.

Sets and Props

Tech Week

The Rehearsal Process

Costumes at Lyric

Running the Show
History of the Lyric Opera House

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