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Subject: Faust's Sex Life
From: "Pierre M. Bellemare" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Sun, 6 Jul 1997 13:15:40 -0400

TEXT/PLAIN (37 lines)

On Sun, 6 Jul 1997, Tobias Abse (Jane Susan Ennis) wrote:

>         With Faust and Marguerite, obviously it starts of with his desire
> to POSSESS her - I think. Well, I was thinking of Goethe's FAUST,
> actually, when he sees her for the first time he demands that
> Mephistopheles procure her for him, I don't think he really sees her as a
> person at first, just as a sexual conquest.

I am not so sure. For me, the ultimate example of a male operatic
character trying to *possess* a woman is Scarpia - and it is clear that
his desire has, in actual fact, comparatively little to
do with sex, least of all a sexual conquest - obviously, it is not on his
sex appeal that the baron counts to take Tosca to his bed. Possession is
question of power, first and foremost, and sex, on Scarpia's terms, is
*only* the concrete - and absolute - form that this power takes.

I would agree that Faust's attraction to Marguerite (as well as her
attraction to him, BTW) initially includes some sexual element, but is it
ONLY sexual? I don't think so, inasmuch, when Faust hesitates to sell his
soul to the devil in the first act, the vision of Marguerite is the
ultimate - and ultimately successful - ARGUMENT that Mephistopheles
conjures up to make him make up his mind. Obviously, she must REPRESENT
something more than "just a sexual conquest" to him - I would suggest
that in his eyes she is the living symbol of youth and the promises of
life, and one  that even the magic of Walpurgisnacht can make him

The more I think of it the more I realize that the characters
whose PRIMARY or ESSENTIAL motivation is sexual are comparatively rare
in opera. The one example that comes to mind is that of the Duke in
RIGOLETTO. I am not sure that even Pinkerton qualifies. Don Giovanni
certainly doesn't - as has often been remarked, he is mainly interested
in statistics - La Lista! As far as couples are concerned, Manon and Des
Grieux may offer some food for thought. And what about Carmen?...

Pierre M. Bellemare
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