Yale Opera to Perform Famous Seduction Scene

Want to learn a few tips from a master of seduction? Come watch Faust perform his Gallic magic on Marguerite, putting Don Juan and Casanova to shame. Yale Opera will present Act II of Charles Gounod’s “Faust,” one of the most popular operas in the world, on Saturday, November 2, at 8 p.m. in the Morse Recital Hall of Sprague Memorial Hall on College Street. The performance is part of “Opera Scenes,” the School of Music’s annual sampler, set for Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2. Hans Nieuwenhuis, the general director of the Netherlands International Opera Center, will conduct the programs, which are different each night. “Opera Scenes” is free and open to the public.

Act II of “Faust” develops the romantic relationship between Faust and the innocent Marguerite. In Act I, Faust has agreed to sell his soul to the devil, Mephistopheles. In return, the devil will transform the aged scholar into a handsome young man and satisfy his longing for pleasure. Doris Yarick-Cross, artistic director of Yale Opera, characterizes this famous seduction scene as “glorious music combined with an intriguing love story.” Act II begins with another suitor visiting Marguerite and leaving flowers. Faust, not to be outdone, enters her garden and leaves a basket of jewels to woo her. He serenades the house in a sweet aria that climbs to a high C. “Few tenors can reach this note,” says John Baril, opera coordinator of the Yale School of Music. “We are fortunate to have Pablo Veguilla as one of our current students.” Lori Trustman, reprising her role as Marguerite from last year’s “Scenes,” launches into the lush “Jewel Song” upon her discovery of the basket. Faust returns, and the seduction begins.

“The climactic song of the scene is the duet between Faust and Marguerite,” says Mr. Baril. “It is an overwhelmingly romantic and sweet piece of French opera, but manages to remain colorful.” The duet signals the victory of Faust’s mission. As the curtain falls on the two lovers embracing, you can hear the devil cackling in the distance.

Yale Opera will present a different selection of scenes each evening. Friday night will include Act I from Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and scenes from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’Amore, Verdi’s Falstaff, and Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri. In addition to Faust, Saturday highlights include the famous duet between Romeo and Juliet from Bellini’s Capulati ei Montecchi, scenes from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Act III from Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel which climaxes with the two children baiting the wicked witch into her own oven.

Yale Opera is comprised of sixteen singers who pursue an intensive two-year program under the aegis of the School of Music. In addition to a major opera performed at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven in February, the students take roles in regional performances throughout the year with companies such as the Hartford Symphony and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. This December, Yale Opera will provide the entire cast for the Waterbury Symphony’s production of “Hansel and Gretel.” Alumni of the program have gone on to roles in notable opera companies around the world, and frequently perform with current Yale students.

For more information, please call 203/432-4157.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325