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<<  -- 2 --  Madeline Jenkins Millard    FAUST AND THE 'FREE WORLD'


She discussed each segment with the children, then fast-forwarded to the next. First, the children saw Faust making his deal with Mephistopheles (also known as the devil). In the video the contract is obvious but Faust's suicidal thoughts are not. The word 'suicide' is not mentioned.

Next shown was the folk dance segment, which the children described to their teacher as 'happy, not scary'. From there she went on to the mezzo-soprano role of Siebel, the page. There she explained to them what a trouser role is. In this production, Siebel's period costume is similar to a short dress and tights; his hair is styled as a pageboy. Sutherland's performance of Marguerite's 'Jewel Aria' followed.

Waggoner closed by fast-forwarding to the trio where Marguerite is joined in her cell by Mephistopheles and Faust. 'And then I do let them see her ascend to heaven,' Waggoner says. 'And how I ended the whole class was: "This is a morality play of good versus evil, and good prevailed. She went to heaven."'

Shortly thereafter, some parents complained to the school superintendent, George Sauter, that their children had been exposed to a satanic video. Others said their children had been experiencing nightmares. Cory Babi, wife of school board member Michael Babi, claimed: 'My child came home and asked me what "abortion" was and what "suicide" was.' Neither word appears in the video. 'I didn't have one negative comment,' counters the teacher. 'I didn't have one fearful child. Not one child was scared or crying or asking to leave. They were all on the edge of their seats. And so for a third-grader to come home and say, "Mommy, what's abortion?" I can't even fathom where she would have heard that! I also have a five-year-old son and wouldn't hesitate to show him the video or the Faust opera.'

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Copyright © 16 April 2006 Madeline Jenkins Millard, Colorado USA


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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller