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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Louis Spohr’s Faust is the first operatic setting of the legend by a major composer. Unlike most of the Faust settings of later years, Spohr’s used a libretto based on Faustian characters and ideas, but not the main events associated with the legend. A subplot presents a second female love interest for Faust, and he is ultimately punished for his misdeeds with eternal damnation. The opera displays many of the features associated with German Romantic opera, including sophisticated characterization and motivic development. In particular, Spohr’s handling of the supernatural elements develops the disruptive procedures associated with two eighteenth-century musical styles, ombra and tempesta, the one slow and menacing, the other fast and furious, both of which lie at the root of Romantic expressivity.

Keywords: Faust, Louis Spohr, opera, Romantic, leitmotif, ombra, tempesta

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