Charles Gounod’s “Faust” secured its international recognition in the version as an entirely sung opera, which from thenceforth has largely obscured the fact that the work was originally composed with spoken dialogues. The early versions staged prior to the 1869 performance at the Paris Opéra containing substantial unknown material and with dialogues and melodramas are the subject of this new edition. (The third version “version opera” was published in a separate edition BA 8713 in 2016.)
Even as the rehearsals were taking place at the Théâtre-Lyrique in 1858, during the first series of performances at the theatre in 1859, furthermore as the 1862 revival was approaching and during the performances on the smaller stage at the Place du Châtelet, there were constant changes and revisions. It is, thus, impossible to identify manifestly definitive versions. Nevertheless, by drawing on the entire source material now at hand (including fascinating material only recently discovered) and on the whole gamut of aspects communicated by the reception, Paul Prévost systematically presents us with a score laid out in two main versions in whose chronology constancy and change become transparent. With all the musical changes having been documented, the result is a practicable score for performances which reveals a still far too unknown “Faust” – a “Faust” that is rooted in the tradition of the opéra comique.
Quite a few musical numbers are published as a score for the first time in this edition: the trio for Faust, Wagner and Siebel “À l’étude ô mon maître”, the duet of Valentin and Marguerite “Adieu, mon bon frère!”, Méphistophélès’ air “Maître Scarabée”, Siebel’s romance “Versez vos chagrins dans mon âme!”, Valentin’s air with chorus “Chaque jour, nouvelle affaire”, the chorus of witches “Un deux et trois”, and also seven melodramas whose missing or incomplete orchestration has been written for our edition. It was only recently that the long-lost second part of Faust’s original cavatina “Salut! demeure chaste et pure” was unearthed. Only in details of orchestration do other numbers differ from the well-known pieces.