Friday 1 October, at the Alighieri Theatre, the premiere of Faust rapsodia. Repeat performances on 2 and 3 October

A map of the soul and a story no one will ever be done retelling: this is, according to director Luca Micheletti, the myth of Faust, whose last reincarnation, combining Goethe’s verses and Robert Schumann’s music, is being brought to the stage in Ravenna. On Friday, 1 October, the Alighieri Theatre is going to host the premiere of Faust rapsodia (repeat performances on 2 and 3 October), the second of the three new works – following Sergei Polunin’s Dante Metànoia and waiting for Paradiso XXXIII by and with Elio Germano and Teho Teardo (11-13 Oct) – that are leading the Autumn Trilogy on a journey through the languages of dance, music, and word to complete the tribute to Dante of the Ravenna Festival’s 32nd edition. The adventures of Faust and his diabolical companion have been entrusted to the direction of Micheletti and the conduction of Antonio Greco, on the podium of the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra and the Cherubini Chorus. Baritone Vito Priante and actor Edoardo Siravo are both Faust; soprano Elisa Balbo performs as Margherita; bass Riccardo Zanellato and actor Roberto Latini are the two faces of Mephistopheles. The three evenings open in the Basilica of San Francesco, at 19.30, with Quanto in femmina foco d’amor, a short performance on the women of the Commedia, accessible with the same ticket of Faust rapsodia and preceding the event, at 21, in the Theatre. Here, the stalls host the orchestra to guarantee its social distancing, while the audience sits in the boxes, the balcony, and the gallery. The Autumn Trilogy of Ravenna Festival, whose main sponsor is Eni, has been made possible by the support of the Municipality of Ravenna, the Chamber of Commerce, the Emilia-Romagna Region, and the Ministry of Culture, with the contribution of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna. 

Faust had already lived through many lives when he met Goethe and, through his poem, became a universal myth. Born of a late-Medieval German tale, the tormented philosopher, scientist, and necromancer who sold his soul to the Devil to quench his thirst for knowledge and youth had featured among the puppets, on the Elizabethan stage, in all those plays and books more or less explicitly inspired by his story. “Faust’s nature is unbelievably protean – says director Luca Micheletti – As it often happens with myths, a uniform and orderly narrative is impossible. We can only explore a galaxy of themes, full of variations and inconsistencies, metamorphoses and ambiguities. Goethe himself surrenders his work to the apparently undisciplined juxtaposition of episodes and styles, re-weaving a plot that turns into an autobiographical reflection on the artist’s creative self, its torments and destinations, its intimate sorrows and ambitions”. According to Goethe’s advice, Micheletti found that theatre is the only place where one can travel through the universe “from heaven to hell”.

It is not by chance, therefore, that the new production chose the word rhapsody to suggest its own visionary quality, able to mirror the fragmentary nature of the source materials. Faust rapsodia is a mosaic comprising parts from Schumann’s incomplete oratorio and scenes from Goethe’s poem – both presented in 19th-century Italian translations, respectively by Vittorio Radicati, the composer’s son-in-law, and by Andrea Maffei. On the stage, both Faust and Mephistopheles have their “double”: the former is both an actor, Edoardo Siravo, when he complains of the nothingness that assails him, and a singer, Vito Priante, embodying the soul of the younger and nobler Faust; Mephistopheles, played by Roberto Latini, doubles as Riccardo Zanellato’s Spirit of the Abyss, who sings the famous scene in the church. On the contrary, Margherita, the most human and humblest of the characters, possesses only one voice, Elisa Balbo’s; she is also, however, the awful ghost of the “Cure”. The creative team features Ezio Antonelli (set, sculptures, and video design), Anna Biagiotti (costumes), Fabrizio Ballini (lighting design).

Like Dante, Faust has been redeemed thanks to his beloved; so Quanto in femmina foco d’amor is inspired by the women in the Commedia, thus becoming an ideal bridge joining the Basilica where Dante’s funerals took place to the stage of the Alighieri Theatre. Based on an idea by Cristina Mazzavillani Muti, on a text by Francesca Masi, and directed by Micheletti himself, this “mystery for voices and pilgrims” – a 30-minute performance – will see characters such as Francesca, Pia, Sapia, Piccarda, and Cunizza sing their prayers together with Eve and Maria, the beginning and the end of the world, as represented by the mysterious woman Dante meets in the Earthly Paradis, Matelda. A penitent listens to the women and joins them; “penitent” is also how Margherita is described in the last scene of Goethe’s poem. After all, both Dante and Faust are among the greatest explorers of the human and inhuman. As these travellers journey across hell and heaven, the supernatural and fantastical elements turn into tools to question the human experience, or the human “comedy”.

Info and pre-sales +39 0544 249244
Tickets from 20 to 40 Euro, under 18 5 Euro