Short introduction to FAUST [working title]

The summer of 2020. The world is in the grip of an unprecedented pandemic. The world as we know it stands under immense pressure.

The crisis has also impacted Dutch National Opera. The scheduled new production of Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele, a large-scale opera based on Goethe’s Faust, cannot go ahead. Almost four years of preparation time – programming in the opera world happens far in advance – cannot culminate in a performance that had to open not only a new season, but also a new artistic era.

Against this background, Lisenka Heijboer Castañón and Manoj Kamps were asked to fill the empty space. Their assignment: take Goethe’s Faust as a starting point and make sure that the production is flexible, so that it can be adapted to changing measures and protocols.

In an artistic pressure cooker FAUST [working title] was created in just three months. The title was decided on when little was clear about the project, except that it could still go in all directions. Work in progress.

The artistic team found inspiration in, among other things, the essay Herdenken herdacht (‘commemoration reconsidered’) by the Dutch philosopher Simon(e) van Saarloos. In this essay Van Saarloos observes that, in the Western tradition, we tend to think in terms of scarcity, whereas in truth there is an abundance of voices, perspectives and stories in the world. The team of FAUST [working title] was fueled by a desire to bring this abundance to the stage.

In addition to existing Faust repertoire, items from the personal musical archives of the artistic team and the performers have been included. The choices are personal, nestled in the bodies of those involved.

To create fitting atmospheric images on the stage, the team has scoured the archives of Dutch National Opera for set pieces that are poetically connected with Goethe’s Faust.

The musical world of FAUST [working title] is layered and polyphonic. The classical repertoire is present, next to lesser performed works. In addition, several contemporary composers have been asked to add their voices – no matter how loud or subtle – to these works. Born out of limitations, FAUST [working title] is a performance that celebrates abundance.