First performance: 5 March 1868 at Teatro alla Scala, Milan (second
version: 4 October 1875 at Teatro Comunale, Bologna)
In Heaven Mefistofele offers God a wager: he says that he can
succeed in seducing the learned Faust onto the paths of evil and that
he will gain possession of his soul. God accepts.
Mefistofele travels to Frankfurt disguised as a Franciscan monk. He
enters Faust’s study and convinces him to sign a contract.
Mefistofele and Faust are in a garden with Margherita and Marta,
her neighbour. Faust converses with Margherita and seduces her. To
prevent their being disturbed, he gives Margherita a powerful
sleeping-draught for her mother.
Mefistofele and Faust travel to a witches’ sabbath on a
mountain top. Faust beholds a vision of Margherita, pale as death with
a blood-red rope around her neck. He hears Mefistofele’s curse upon the world.
Margherita is in prison awaiting her execution. She has been accused of
having killed her child and poisoned her mother. Faust attempts to
convince her to flee with him, but she refuses. She recognises
Mefistofele as the devil and prays for forgiveness. Choirs of angels
announce the salvation of her soul.
On the banks of the Peneios in ancient Greece, young girls perform a
dance in honour of the full moon. Helen of Troy and her companion
Pantalis lament the fate of Troy. Mefistofele and Faust appear.
Faust professes his love for Helen and they withdraw to a cave.
Faust sits in his study in Frankfurt. He has grown old and thinks back
upon all he has experienced. He realises that his life has been mere
vanity. He dies with the Bible in his hand, without giving in to the
last temptations sent by Mefistofele. Faust is welcomed by the
angelic host into Heaven.
Click here for the complete libretto.
image_description=Boris Christoff as Mefistofele
first_audio_name=Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele
product_title=Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele
product_by=Boris Christoff, Giacinto Prandelli, Orietta Moscucci, Amalia Pini, Piero de Palma, Orchestra e Coro del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Vittorio Gui (cond.). Recorded in London, 1955. (Version with Act IV omitted.)