Presented by Huw Edwards
Produced by Kerry Clark
Broadcast November 5, 2005
Coded from tape at 128/44.1
Another in the BBC's intermittent series: 'The Real History Of Opera', in which Huw Edwards sets an opera in its contemporary context.
Here he considers claims that in 'Faust', Gounod turned Goethe's great play into a sentimental romp.
Gounod's Faust is the most enduring adaptation for the theatre of many works which take as their source Goethe's great masterpiece.
One of the most popular and most performed operas in the world for more than a hundred years, it's nevertheless extremely problematic - full of wonderful melody and lavish spectacle, but Gounod is accused by some of turning Goethe's philosophically and intellectually challenging play into nothing more than a sugary dollop of Victorian sentimentality.
Huw Edwards investigates the dumbing down, or not, of the famous story.