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Bethel College to present Gounod’s "Faust"

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- The Bethel College theater and music departments will present the tragic opera "Faust" by Charles Gounod. Performances are set for 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, and 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12. Charles Gounod (1818-1893) originally had the idea of writing an opera based on Goethe’s "Faust" after he read it in a French translation at age 20. The opera was first performed in March of 1859 in Paris. The story, told in two acts, is that of an aged philosopher who begins to feel that his life’s work is worthless. Tempted by a vision of a beautiful young girl, Faust signs a pact with Méphistophélès, a servant of the devil, and regains his youth for the price of his immortal soul. Méphistophélès then goes after the real prize--the pure and innocent soul of the young girl, Marguerite. He tries every evil trick in the book, murdering Marguerite’s brother and destroying her life completely, to break her faith. Said opera director Kathryn Kasper, Bethel College associate professor of music, "Gounod wrote some of the most beautiful melodies I have ever heard.

"This piece is really stretching our cast," she added. "It will be a wonderful production that all will enjoy."

The cast of this first-ever Bethel College production of "Faust" includes sophomore Chikezie Eze, Inglewood, Calif., in the title role; sophomore Ben Kliewer, Buhler, as Méphistophélès; senior Greta Steingard, Henderson, Neb., as Marguerite; sophomore Jeff Janzen, Fresno, Calif., as Marguerite’s brother Valentin; freshman Andrew Findley, Coffeyville, as the student Wagner; sophomore Caitlin Welch, Lawrence, as the youth Siébel; and senior Bethany Amstutz, Hillsboro, as Marthe Schwerlein.

The chorus includes seniors Bethany Amstutz and Angela Carriker, Colby; juniors David Nance, Dallas, Texas; Ryan Shepherd, Fort Worth, Texas; and Barry Turner II, Newton; sophomores Adrienne Gerek, Onaga; Jeff Janzen; Heidi Johnson, Topeka; Emily Kerbs, Newton; Stephanie Stivers, Maize; and Kristin Watson-Drennen, Lyons; and freshmen Caitlin Buerge, Kansas City, Mo.; Chelsea Chaffin, Lawrence; Andrew Cornwell, Lawrence; Andrew Findley; Katie Franz, Lawrence; Andrea Nickel, Windsor, Colo.; Caley Ortman, Marion, S.D.; Bill Pruett, Holton; Malcolm Rhymer Jr., West Palm Beach, Fla.; Dana Steingard, Henderson, Neb.; and Kristin Wedel, Hutchinson.

Dancers are Margaret Mead-Finizio, dance director for the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts, and Amber Lock, a dance instructor at BCAPA. Annette Thornton of Boulder, Colo., first owner of The Dance Center in Newton, is the dance director and choreographer.

The Bethel College Sinfonia, conducted by musical director Christopher Koch, assistant professor of music, will accompany the singers. Katherine Larson, a freshman from Clay Center, is assistant opera director. Albert Martinez is the technical director and set designer.

Bethel College will be celebrating 50 years of opera productions with a special program at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, in Memorial Hall, which is free and open to the public.

Tickets for "Faust" are $10 for adults, $8 for non-Bethel students and adults age 65+, and $6 for children age 3-12, available at Thresher Bookstore in the Schultz Student Center; call (316) 284-5205.

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