Doktor Faustus


Drama in Music, Text: Hugo Claus

Full Orchestra, 2 Protagonists, 15 soloists, children’s choir, opera choir, figurants

UA: 20/2/1985, Opéra de Paris, Palais Garnier, (Regie: Charles Hamilton, Solisten u.a.: Heinz-Jürgen Demitz, Joszef Dene, Anna Ringart; Dir.: Janos Kulka)

NE: 18/4/1985, Nederlandse Opera, Scheveningen, (Regie: Ch. Hamilton, Solisten u.a.: Ernst-Daniel Smid, Ton Thissen, Annett Andriessen; Dir.: Lucas Vis)

DOKTOR FAUSTUS (1980-83, libretto: Hugo CLAUS) is the result of more than 10 years of reflexion on the subject. This large drama in music is based on the scarce historic documents concerning this legendary figure from the Renaissance.

Hugo CLAUS made use of these documents to build upon them a story which has nothing in common with the Faust-dramas of the classic or romantic period. Even Faust’s opponent, Mephisto, is exchanged for his historical opponent, the abbot Johannes Thrithemius, alchemist and astrologer like Faust. 

After he has saved Faust from an extremely dangerous situation (the pedophile hero is threatened with death by the parents of his erotic objects), he tries to get his opponent under control, – not without success. Both start the alchemic experiment every medieval alchemist was dreaming of: the creation of a homunculus. Once this experiment is successfully accomplished, a beautiful young man arises from the phials of the laboratory. 

This little ‘Hans’ is modelled from another historic figure from Faust’s time, the young peasant “Pfeifferhänsle” who pretended having seen the Holy Virgin several times. At each meeting she had confided him more and more revolutionary messages (it was the period of the peasants’ wars) which he preached around before an constantly increasing public.

Until Rome sends some Jesuits to get rid of him. Faust’s little Hans becomes very soon the object of his desires, but very soon the boy starts behaving like his historical model. Until he is betrayed by Trithemius and killed by the messengers of Rome. The loss of his beloved creation finally destroys Faust, who becomes an excessive alcoholic. In a state of complete drunkenness he empties one of the phials from his laboratory and falls dead from the poison. This is the hour of Trithemius.

In the final scene, Faust’s monument is already erected, and Trithemius completely neutralizes his former opponent by praising him verbally into haven and… into literature. 

Doktor Faustus was awarded the Rolf-Liebermann-prize in September 1983.