The Faust Project Presentation (Feb. 3-4, 2017)

Feb. 3 and 4, 2017, at 8:00 pm

Burchfield Penney Art Center

From left: Neil Wechsler, Vincent O'Neill, David Oliver, Kurt Guba, and Josephine Hogan. Photograph by Irene Haupt.

The Faust Project: A Staged Reading with Live Music of Goethe's Faust, an inventive reworking of Goethe’s epic by Yale Drama Award winning playwright Neil Wechsler and former Tanglewood Music Center compositional fellow and UB alumnus Nathan Heidelberger. The Faust Project was presented in two evening performances at the Burchfield Penney Art Center as part of A Musical Feast concert series

The eighty-minute staged reading of selected scenes from Goethe’s tragedy adapted and directed by Wechsler, with Heidelberger’s new chamber score, featured Vincent O’Neill as Mephistopheles, David Oliver as Faust, and Kurt Guba and Josephine Hogan in multiple roles.

The challenge of capturing all of Goethe’s 17-hour epic in a spare, roughly hour-long performance mirrored Faust’s own insatiable drive to master all knowledge and highlighted the simplicity at the heart of the story – the bargain between Faust and the Devil.

Dr. Faust (David Oliver) signs the "deal with the Devil" (Vincent O'Neill). Photograph by Irene Haupt.

The dialogue was interspersed with new incidental music by Heidelberger, reflecting up on the action, setting up new scenes, and suggesting some of the play’s more colorful events. The sheer impossibility of the task—capturing all of Goethe’s epic in a spare, hour-long production—mirrors Faust’s own insatiable drive to master all knowledge.