‹ Back to What's On Faust

13 Oct - 23 Nov 2012

Charles Gounod (1859) 

A Pact with the Devil
New production

Middle-aged scholar Faust longs for a life full of glory and pleasure that he never had. Méphistophélès is offering a second chance in exchange for his soul. An innocent woman, Marguerite, falls victim to this diabolical pact when Faust seduces her with fatal consequences. But while for Marguerite there is hope for redemption, for Faust there is none.

Performed in more than 50 countries and translated into 25 languages, Gounod’s great melodramatic opera has been capturing audiences since its 1859 Paris premiere. Alongside Carmen, it remains one of the most popular French operas of all time. Bursting with moving solos, dramatic ensembles and thrilling choruses, every scene of Gounod’s masterpiece is overflowing with memorable melodies including the charming Jewel Song and the powerful Soldier’s Chorus.

Renowned tenor Peter Auty takes the title role joined by James Creswell - as the devil Méphistophélès - who is returning to Opera North after his recent roles in Norma and Das Rheingold. Their trio is completed by Juanita Lascarro as Marguerite, bringing a confidently flexible vocal for which she has become famous.

Gounod’s Faust is one of several operas inspired by Goethe’s great Faust drama- other examples are Berlioz’s The Damnation de Faust and the rarely performed Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito. The Metropolitan Opera was opened with a performance was Gounod’s version of Faust in New York on 22 October 1883. It remains one of the most in demand operas at the Met, with more than 730 performances given up until 2008. For several decades New York’s opera season opened with a performance of the piece. 

Sung in French with English titles

Last approximately 3 hours

What the critics say

A robust and persuasive reading of the score by conductor Stuart Stratford. Lillevan's flickering images of high finance, dirty politics and private angst move in approximate parallel to Gounod's velvet and organza orchestral textures […] Creswell's Méphistophélès is a revelation: loose-limbed, witty, idiomatically French in style and tone from the first pretty lie to the last sulphurous laugh.

The Independent on Sunday - Full Review ›

clever and resonant […] What sets the seal on the evening’s success is Stuart Stratford’s impassioned conducting and the thrilling playing of the orchestra, who leave you in no doubt of the quality of Gounod’s score and its innate theatricality. Faust emerges in pristine colours as a work that can speak to audiences of today. I hope they will flock in droves to see it.

Sunday Times - Full Review ›

The production sounds glorious, with terrific singing [...] Lillevan’s visual effects are frequently stunning

The Arts Desk - Full Review ›

The images they summon are so colourful, sophisticated and eye-catching that you can’t help wondering why such liberating technology hasn’t been used more often in place of the traditional clump of props and paintwork [...] The score sounds fresh-minted, intensely dramatic, properly seductive. Stuart Stratford paces and balances it immaculately.

Financial Times - Full Review ›

There are some fine vocal performances […] Creswell is chilling, while Auty sings the title role with infinite passion.

The Guardian - Full Review ›

Stuart Stratford conducts with keen relish of the score’s richness of texture and colour.

The Telegraph - Full Review ›

Stuart Stratford conducts with keen relish of the score’s richness of texture and colour.

The Telegraph - Full Review ›

In the title role, Peter Auty is dramatically convincing as an anguished middle-aged man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Possessing a very attractive and bright tenor voice, Auty’s singing was heartfelt and moving

Opera Britannia - Full Review ›

Strong singing […] from Peter Auty’s vital and lyrical Faust, Juanita Lascarro’s fluent Marguerite and especially from James Creswell’s star turn of a Mephistopheles, while Stuart Stratford’s conducting is distinguished.

The Stage - Full Review ›


  • Faust Peter Auty
  • Méphistophélès James Creswell
  • Marguerite Juanita Lascarro
  • Valentin Marcin Bronikowski
  • Wagner Paul Gibson
  • Siébel Robert Anthony Gardiner
  • Marthe Sarah Pring
Creative Team
  • Conductor Stuart Stratford
  • Directors Ran Arthur Braun & Rob Kearley
  • Set and Visual Designer Ran Arthur Braun
  • Costume Designer Sue Willmington
  • Lighting Designer David Cunningham

Click on the venue below to plan your visit.

Leeds Grand Theatre

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46 New Briggate
Leeds Grand Theatre

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Box Office: 0844 848 2720 (calls cost 7ppm)

  • To access the Grand Theatre, there are six steps from the street up to the foyer or a wheelchair lift from the Grand Theatre Box Office to the foyer, and then lift access to the rest of the auditorium (excluding the Upper Balcony). Some areas of the auditorium do have steep stairs and may not be suitable for people with limited mobility. Please check with the Box Office. 
  • There are 6 wheelchair spaces: four in the Stalls and two in the Dress Circle.
  • There are accessible toilets at Stalls and Dress Circle levels. 
  • There is an infra-red system in operation for sound amplification. Headsets are available from the Grand Theatre foyer for a £5 refundable deposit. Please ask Box Office staff when booking for advice on the best seats to use this service. 
  • Support dogs are welcome in the auditorium and can be looked after on request. 
  • For refreshments, there are bars at Stalls, Upper Circle and Balcony levels.  

Choose from these fantastic pre-theatre dining options and make your experience complete!

The Alchemist

Opera North ticket holders can enjoy 20% off their food bill at The Alchemist. Located on the second floor of Trinity Shopping Centre, The Alchemist offers a fantastic menu and stunning views of Leeds City Centre. Not available Saturdays. 

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Manahatta is a recently opened bar and kitchen located on Merrion Street, just a minute's walk from Leeds Grand Theatre. Serving a fantastic New York inspired menu made with fresh local produce, guests will receive 20% off their food bill before 6.15pm with proof of ticket. Booking is required. 

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North Bar

Opera North and Howard Assembly Room ticket holders can enjoy 10% off all drinks at New Briggate's finest craft beer hotspot — North Bar, just a stone's throw from Leeds Grand Theatre. 

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Enjoy 15% off all food and drink at authentic Italian wine bar Veeno (Leeds branch only) on presentation of ticket for an Opera North performance. Excludes Fridays and Saturdays after 5.00pm. 

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Veritas Ale & Wine Bar

Enjoy a special pre-opera meal at Veritas Ale & Wine Bar. Just a 5-10 minute walk from Leeds Grand Theatre, choose either two courses for £13.95 (£17.50 with a 175ml house wine) or three courses for £15.95 (£19.50 with a 175ml house wine). Available 5.00-6.30pm. Booking is required.

Download Menu | Book via email or call 0113 242 8094 and quote 'pre-opera menu'

Brasserie Blanc

Sample the fabulous pre-theatre menu at Brasserie Blanc and choose from two courses for £11.95 or three courses for £15.45, with a complimentary glass of fizz for Opera North ticket holders. Located just a 10 minute walk from the Leeds Grand Theatre. Available 12.00-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday. 

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The Reliance

Just a 5 minute walk from Leeds Grand Theatre, The Reliance bar and dining room offers a fantastic pre-theatre menu. Choose from two courses for £14.45 or three courses for £18.90. Available 5.30-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday.

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Salford Quays

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Pier 8
Salford Quays
M50 3AZ

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Box office: 0843 208 6000 

There is a passenger drop-off point immediately in front of The Lowry. Secure parking is available in The Lowry Outlet Mall multi-storey car park. There are designated areas for disabled parking on every level. 

The Lowry is accessible by train, tram and bus. http://www.tfgm.com/

From national railway stations, Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria you can travel to The Lowry by Metrolink tram. You can board an Eccles line tram and should alight at Harbour City, or Media City UK for trams which stop there, as this is slightly closer.

More info: http://www.thelowry.com/plan-your-visit/getting-here/


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100 Grey Street

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Box office: 08448 112121


Free Parking in all City Council multi-storey carparks after 5pm.

The two closest car parks to Theatre Royal are the Oxford Street multi-storey (just behind the Laing) and the Dean Street multi-storey. Click here for more info.

There are two parking spaces for blue badge holders on Shakespeare Street and three on Hood Street. Most parking meters are free to Blue Badge Holders.


Alight at Monument Metro Station and follow the signs for the Theatre Royal. We are less than one minutes walk from the Metro entrance on Grey Street.

Travel free on the Metro with your theatre ticket (up to two hours before and after the performance) - simply retain your theatre ticket for inspection by Metro Staff.


The Theatre Royal is only ten minutes walk from Newcastle Central Station.


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Theatre Square

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Box Office: 0115 989 5555

Find access details for Nottingham Theatre Royal

By Car

Follow signs for the city centre and the 'Royal Zone'. Nearest car parks are Talbot Street car park and Crowne Plaza Hotel car park on Wollaton Street.
For maps and information about on-street parking, off-street car parks, park and ride and the blue badge scheme please visit Parking In Nottingham

By Bus

For bus times call Nottingham City Transport on 0115 950 6070, Traveline on 0871 200 2233 or visit www.travelineeastmidlands.co.uk   Find out about our £1 return bus ticket here.

By Tram

 The 'Royal Centre' tram stop is directly outside the venue and runs every 10 minutes until midnight. There are five Park and Ride sites along the route. Visit www.thetram.net or call 0115 942 7777 for full details of the tram route. Find out about our £1 return tram ticket here.

By Rail

Nottingham Station is a 15 minute walk or a short taxi or tram ride from the venue. Call 0845 748 4950 or www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times and fares. 


Discover exciting pre-theatre dining options for Nottingham Theatre Royal

What you say

Comment from Victor


Victor said ago

I also saw the ON production of Faust at Nottingham. The director has obviously convinced himself how clever he is by searching hard for “relevant modern parallels” with the original script, while updating the action to a modern city banker’s environment. As a regular opera-goer, I have seen many such “updated” transpositions and, whether they work or not, I can not see the point of them. I have never found that such an updating has increased my enjoyment of the work (although it has often had the opposite effect).

I now regard the exercise purely as an ego-trip for the director, having no artistic or commercial value. As Robert has commented, while we seasoned fans merely shrug our shoulders and resign ourselves to another “arty-farty” updating that is incompatible with the words spoken and sung, this can be bewildering to new opera-goers, who may only be familiar with other genres unaffected by such extreme directorial meddling, e.g. popular theatre productions, films, TV soaps, etc. I particularly recall explaining the plot of Rigoletto to my children prior to a performance, only for them to be totally mystified by the action taking place in an industrial setting and Gilda meeting her death under an avalanche of polystyrene “coal”!

I have a theory that opera so often falls victim to such treatment because such an expensive art form is usually supported by Arts Councils or charitable funding. Who can blame musically illiterate art school graduates for realising that such bodies like to be seen to recognise contributions from other branches of the arts, thus enabling them to get their noses in the funding trough, which is actually meant to support what is essentially a musical experience.

Opera seems almost unique in being swamped by modifications aimed at relevance to contemporary realities. Children’s fairy stories are still woven around knights, princesses and castles, however outdated and TV drama has more than it’s share of historical and costumed plays. If it is so necessary for music to reflect contemporary reality, can we look forward to the day when a largely non-Christian Britain will be presented with an amended Islamic text to Handel’s Messiah?

Putting aside the directorial re-writing, the production did suffer from the need for economy. Like some previous ON productions, having the action take place on a flat stage, with little opportunity for the singers to appear at different levels, is very restrictive. However, in an expensive undertaking like grand opera, I much prefer that the money be spent on musical aspects, even to the extent of occasionally being restricted to concert performances. The Faust soloists did not disappoint. As Méphistophélès, James Creswell was possessed of an excellent bass-baritone voice which only occasionally suffered from a lack of variation, while Faust was beautifully sung by Peter Auty, only showing any loss of sensitivity on the high C of “Salut, demeure, chaste et pure”.

I too was disappointed by the poor turnout for Faust at Nottingham, while Don Giovanni was better attended. I guess this reflects the fact that putting bums on seats means attracting new opera-goers from the general public, who may be unfamiliar with Gounod’s beautiful opera, choc-full of great tunes, while believing that Mozart is a safe bet (although I have sat through tedious performances of Don Giovanni, Cosi, and others.)

Comment from Opera North


Opera North said ago

Dear Robert, thank you for detailed feedback and continued support, we are sorry that you didn't like the production and we will pass your comments to the relevant people within the company.

Comment from robert


robert said ago

Great operatic experiences with Don Giovanni and the Makroupolis Case, in Nottingham this week. but what a disaster was Faust. A half empty auditorium in Nottingham said it all. Glorious singing,, a great Mephisopolis but one had to keep ones eyes closed. I aftewards carefully read the Directors reasons for such a dreadful production. I am not against updating an opera(Miller did it famiously for Rigoletto., and some of the updates for Fidelio have been excellent, Boheme and Traviata also,) but the reason to do so must be clear. This update made just caused confusion. What city banker or worker would be all that concerneed about his sister becoming pregnant.? The presence of surtitles made it even more risable, we listen to city workers ?Bankers singing about going to war, and fighting battles. As poor Margarita ws to be hanged for infanticide, what was the role of Abortion posters? Why are the jewels in a tea chest? Why destroy the atmosphers of tragedy of Valentinos death, by having all the bankers taking photographs with their mobiles?The projections were mostly irrelevant, and distracting.they could have been relevant. Those for Walpurgas night, a great potential if one is using projections were pathetic and bore no relationship to a night of orgy.. The directors explanation of what he was aiming for, bore no relation to what he had achieved. seeing all the empty seats in Nottingham, this was a commercial disaster, which Opera North or any opers company can ill afford. To lose money on a popular opea on a Friday night is unacceptable. Will the director be held to account? What mechanism is there to ensure that there is some overseeing of a planned production.Would the director be prepared to perhaps meet an audience and explain what he was aiming for,, if he thought he had achieved it, and the audience vould tell himwhere he failed. I had three guests, to whom I was introducing opera, they were mystified at tht eirrelevancce of the visual production and the surtitles,and the message that Margarite chose death and salvation , rather than life and immoral love was entirely lost.

Comment from Nick Hayes


Nick Hayes said ago

I hadn't realized that abortion was a crime in contemporary France, unlike infanticide (which was then and still is). I've certainly no principled objection to contemporising opera. I didn't particularly miss the spinning wheel; I could even live with the plastic surgery, and the slightly annoying flickering images on tall vertical screens. But abortion – is this production supposed to be challenging my assumptions and belief systems? If so it hasn’t. My views are very unlikely to change on the basis of distorting the plot of a nineteenth century opera. Why would the directors think that they would? Judged by the audience's muted response in Nottingham I was not on my own.

Comment from Mark


Mark said ago

I saw this in Newcastle just a week after seeing Scottish Opera's Magic Flute, and if SO had had James Cresswell singing his Sarastro, both for his voice and stage presence, it would have sent that production into the stratosphere. Opera North's Faust had a complete set of magnificent singing, and a vibrant chorus. But the screens tended to restrict movement, forcing a stand and sing delivery. I agree with the Guardian review that the attempt to contemporise the setting worked against key elements of the story. The projections were an interesting experiment - but not an approach I'd like to see too often.
At the end of the day, a Gothic opera probably does need a Gothic production. But the heart of any opera is the voices, and they were BRILLIANT.

Comment from Jacqueline Taylor


Jacqueline Taylor said ago

This must be the only opera we haven't seen and we were absolutely glued to our seats - it was fantastic and the principals especially James Creswell superb - what a wonderful voice. We would visit this opera again by Opera North as we loved the staging and digitalisation - not having seen the piece previously we can't judge - but to us it was magnificant. The three hours soon passed, sadly.

Comment from Helen Baron


Helen Baron said ago

Saw this production last night and was very disappointed. Some good singing, but the direction was awful. The screens forced most of the action to the centre of the stage and the blocking of movement was awkward for both principals and chorus, who looked over enthusiastic but under-rehearsed. The relentless images distracted from the performances, and the whole production was dated and dull. The audience's muted reactions said it all.

Comment from Max Page


Max Page said ago

Not at all sure about the production (don't know the opera well enough) but Peter Auty's and James Creswell's singing and the orchestra's playing were instrumental in a blissful evening's entertainment.




What a load of rubbish! I thought the production of CARMEN was bad enough, NORMA was even worse and this production of FAUST was the worst I have seen anywhere. No wonder there were so many empty seats at The Lowry Tuesday Nov 6th, Opera fans are getting sick and tired of these "concept" productions and are staying away because they know what to expect. I wish I had. The singers and we the audience were fighting a losing battle with the distracting, annoying and pointless flashing projections and videos in the background. This lot should be prosecuted for destroying a magnificent opera and wasting a lot of public money in the process!

Comment from Malcolm & Celia


Malcolm & Celia said ago

We saw this opera on the 3 November and we simply loved it. We have read multiple reviews of this production which seem to miss the point and appear to be from people who want to sleep walk through the same opera. In their day many operas were challenging, radical and new, both in theme and production. It is important to us when we go and see an opera that we can have that similar experience - so things do need to be updated to be relevant now. We do like the traditional productions, but in this case, as a traditional production, we would have still very much enjoyed the music, but not had the same emotional buy-in which for us enhanced the musical performances and helped us believe in the story and acting. It might just be that the use of technology and the updating of the story is something that appeals to those who are engaged with the modern world more than those who are retired from it. Age may not be the critical factor in this (we are in our 50s) but attitude of mind certainly might be. We noted there were more young people in the audience on this night than for the other operas. Elements of your Faust reminded us of the impact that “Jerry Springer the Opera” had – which no doubt many people would also have found challenging! We have seen all of the three operas this season and this was a great nights entertainment on which to end the series. It is a shame to see empty seats – but is this also more about the times and the recession than style of the opera – personally we are more likely to keep attending for productions like this than the ”same old stuff”. A memorable triumph – thank you.

Comment from Laurie R


Laurie R said ago

Taking a friend last night whose introduction to Opera this was, she saw the very best! Absolutely wonderful, the screens did not detract from the superb voices, another triumph Opera North.

Comment from Emily


Emily said ago


I will admit that after going to the pre-show talk I was prepared to be disappointed by all the 'innovation' and 'contemporary twists'.

However, I thought that the screens (apart from the odd occasion when I could hear them squeak across the stage) were a great success - powerful imagery that on the most part added to the atmosphere, though the floating faces were sometimes a little off-putting.

The modern setting with the "bible-bashers" seemed an inventive way of giving power to the lyrics involving God, the devil, sin, and blasphemy, which otherwise may have fallen short, especially for the younger people in the audience.

As for the characters, Faust was heart-breaking in his lyric torment, Marguerite was a perfect picture of fallen innocence, but the star of the show had to be Mephistopheles, whose voice was superbly rich and whose every action was filled with playful evil and devilish power. I felt for all of the leading characters, who were all played with sympathy and skill, although I wonder if people sitting further back could hear Siebel.

As I left the theatre, I found myself thinking about seeing the production again. Whatever it's flaws, it was a deeply affective performance. Thank you, ON.

Comment from Maggie Whitaker


Maggie Whitaker said ago

Oh Dear!!! How awful, the video screens totally ruined a wonderful Mr Mephistopheles, Marguerite and indeed orchestra. Do not the very, many empty seats spell out something? I thought Carmen was bad enough but sorry this was even worse. Please come back Opera North and fill the seats. Have read several negative reviews, I am not on my own.

Comment from Ted


Ted said ago

New insights are always welcome (Cosi fan tutte is a case in point) and they can work for updated interpretations (Fortunes of Croesus, for example) but only if the director has read the libretto closely and is interpreting it rather than rewriting it. The most disappointing productions of late have been Carmen and Faust. Please, no more of this. The orchestra, chorus and soloists invariably do a fine job: give them the directors they deserve.

Comment from Carel


Carel said ago

Very disappointed with this production with its political and anti abortion theme. The video screens were particularly distracting. The singing was beautiful and the orchestra in fine tune. It's a shame the chorus and musicians were let down by the visual effects and interpretation.

Comment from Helen Seymour


Helen Seymour said ago

Wonderful singing, especially from James Creswell and Peter Auty and the orchestera just get better and better, but it was seriousy marred by a very messy production. The projections just didn't work - too much and too distracting - and some extradordinarily odd directions: e.g Mephisto pushing a box on during a duet, the crowd overacting painfully. Needs rethinking drastically.

Comment from Barbara Kelly


Barbara Kelly said ago

This was a wonderful production, what a start for the season. Mephistopheles was most beautifully sung, deep rich voice that semed to go on forever. I found Juanita Lascarro's Marguerite most affecting. She sang with such feeling it turned on my tears.
Faust was good holding it all together although his portrayal was one where I found it hard to have any sympathy with him, not sure why. Loved all the visuals, created a cold modern world with hints of the fires of Hell too. Great Chorus singing as always. The stuff with the mobile phones was so good and so irritating, I felt like going and throwing the phones and ipads into the nearest river. But that's life!
Orchestra excellent as always. A magnificent production of the most wonderful music and singing. A must see.

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Enjoy 20% off your bill at Sandinista (Cross Belgrave Street - New Briggate) on presentation of your Opera North ticket when placing your food order. To book a table call 0113 305 0372. Food is served till 10pm through the week with final orders at 9pm Friday and Saturday. Only valid on the day of the performance your ticket is for. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.


Why not make a night of it and enjoy a pre-show meal at The Lowry Restaurant? You can have your theatre programmes delivered to your table, pre-order your interval drinks or return for dessert and coffee during the interval. Call 0161 876 2121 to reserve your table.


Enjoy a two course pre-theatre meal at Pasqualino’s for just £15.50 or £13 for Friends. Available 5.30pm. Call the Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 to book.

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The Corner House, Trinity Row, Nottingham, NG1 4DP0115 947 5009 www.strada.co.ukValid 20 – 24 November 5.00pm – 11.00pm. Up to 4 people per table.

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Did You Know?

Parts of Gounod’s Faust have seeped into popular culture: a performance of the opera is for example part of the story of the musical The Phantom of the Opera and short extracts from the words to the Jewel Song feature in several stories in Hergé’s comic The Adventures of Tintin

Season Tickets

Full information can be found here.

On sale dates for Leeds Grand Theatre
Booking for fixed subscriptions opens on 28 May and booking for multibuy ticket packages opens on 18 June. Priority booking for Friends of Opera North and Groups opens on 9 July.

All tickets will be on public sale on 16 July 2012. 

On sale dates for The Lowry 
Booking for multibuy ticket packages opens on 14 June. Priority booking for Friends of Opera North and My Lowry opens on 28 June.

All tickets will be on public sale on 5 July 2012.

On sale dates for Theatre Royal Nottingham
Booking for multibuy ticket packages opens 11 June. Priority booking for Friends of Opera North opens 25 June.

All tickets will be on public sale on 2 July 2012.


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All week

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All week

  • Multibuy Packages: 10% off when you book 3-4 operas; 15% off when you book 5-6 operas. Full details here
  • Group bookings: 20% off for groups of 8 or more
  • Disabled people: 50% off for patron and essential companion in Stalls
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