Faust, Gounod, Synopsis, Handlung

The online opera guide of Gounod’s aria SALUT DEMEURE CHASTE ET PURE

Read Interesting facts and hear great YouTube Videos about the famous Aria “SALUT DEMEURE CHASTE ET PURE”.


If you want to hear more about the opera FAUST, click on the link to the opera portrait


The Aria – Synopsis and Background


Synopsis: Faust is sitting in the study. He has countless books and atlases in front of him. Rien! He is desperate, he acquired a lot of knowledge and yet has attained little wisdom. He is tired of the constant search for meaning in life. The poison cup is already ready. When he leads it to his mouth, he hears the singing of young women and peasants. The singing distracts him. Love, happiness and fame have left him. He would make one last attempt, even with Satan’s help. He actually appears in the person of Mefisto. He asks Faust why he called him. Faust dismisses him. Mefisto insists: is it gold or glory that he wants? Then Faust explains: “Love is what he misses”. Mefisto could grant him this wish. When Faust asks him what he wants for it, Mefisto replies, that the worldly life will belong to Faust, but his soul will belongs to him in the hereafter. Mefisto creates a vision of Margueritee  on the spinning wheel. Faust is spellbound and enchanted. He quickly signs Mefisto’s paper and receives a rejuvenating potion in return, which he drinks greedily. Faust triumphanthly praises  his youth. The next day Faust sees Marguerite in the village. Faust speaks to Marguerite. But she rejects him. Faust is not discouraged, he loves her even more. Faust appears in the garden accompanied by Mefisto. Mefisto leaves to procure a gift for Marguerite. Faust is alone and in anticipation of the reunion with Marguerite.



The aria opens in piano with a solemn larghetto in the strings. And the tenor begins almost declamatory with his hymn. Hector Berlioz, the famous contemporary of Gounod, appreciated this aria very much and attributed it a lot of real and deep feeling.



Soon we hear the solo violin, which plays around the tenor’s voice throughout the piece. Berlioz said that this trick of Gounod “is much more of a pity than a help to the whole, and I think the singer Duprez was right, who one day, when an instrument solo in the orchestra accompanied him during a romance, said: “This devil’s instrument with its runs and variations irritates me like a fly that whirrs around my head and wants to sit on my nose. »

Conde countered that Gounod pronounces with the violin what the words could only halfway say (” ce que les mots ne disent qu’à demi “).

Fausts’ words are spiritual and expressive. Words like “innocente et divine ” or “que de richesse (“How rich”) give the singer the opportunity to show the subtlety and richness of his voice.



The second part begins with “O nature” to “Sous tes yeux” with a nice crescendo.



The music becomes more intense and the singing voice becomes higher and culminates for the first time in a high A at “avec amour “.



The intensity increases steadily up to the climax of the aria with the spectacular high C, which should be sung tastefully and must under no circumstances be coarse and craving for recognition, which would destroy the mood of this piece.



The piece ends with a beautiful adagio of the solo violin.






Salut! demeure chaste et pure, où se devine
La présence d’une âme innocente et devine! …

Que de richesse en cette pauvreté!
En ce réduit que de félicité! …

O nature, c’est là que tu la fis si belle,
C’est là que cette enfant à grandi sous ton aile,

A dormi sous tes yeux!
Là que, de ton haleine enveloppant son âme,

Tu fis avec amour épanouir la fêmme
En cet ange des cieux!

Salut! demeure chaste et pure, où se divine
La présence d’une âme innocente et devine!


What unknown emotion now fills me?
I feel that my whole being is in the grip of love.

O Marguerite, here I am your feet!Hail, chaste and pure dwelling where
One can feel the presence of an innocent and holy soul.

What wealth in this very poverty!
What bliss in this humble cottage!

O Nature, this is where you created her beauty!
This is where the maid grew up beneath your wing,

Grew up under your gaze!
Here, too, breathing into her soul,

You lovingly turned this angel of heaven
Into a fresh?blooming woman.

This is the place … yes … here it is!
Hail, chaste and pure dwelling, etc.



Written for a «Spinto Tenor»

The role of Faust is written for a spinto tenor (Italian) respectively young heroic tenor (German). The voice is strong and masculine. It has a metallic brilliance in the high notes. It captivates with its effortless power in the higher tessitura and has still agility. In the high register the Spinto Tenor can inspire the audience with top notes.



Famous interpretations of SALUT DEMEURE CHASTE ET PURE


We hear this aria in many recordings.

Maybe Björling’s interpretation is unbeatable. He has recorded this aria repeatedly. In this recording we see him in a television production. We notice an uncertain look at the beginning, but then Björling beguiles the listener from the first second on. He turns into a tender, romantic lover. His singing and playing is of great naturalness, as is the high C. This performance together with Enrico Caruso’si s and was the blueprint for all tenors after them.

Salut, demeure chaste et pure  –  Björling



For Jonas Kaufmann, one of the challenges of the role is to do justice to both the old Faust and the young. “The fact that Faust becomes both perpetrator and victim requires vocal flexibility. And by this I mean not only the rise of the tessitura from the baritonal beginning to the high C in this cavatina, but also the many timbres. The dark brooding must be expressed as well as the rapturous lyricism in “Salut demeure chaste” and the passion in the duet. From beginning to end the part is so rich in colours and nuances that I wouldn’t want to miss it in my repertoire. (Voigt, “Jonas Kaufmann”).

Salut, demeure chaste et pure  –  Kaufmann


Caruso, who had a rather baritonal voice, showed trouble with high notes at the beginning of his career. “When he made his first recordings, this problem was at any rate solved, as the splendid recording of Salut, demeure chaste et pure, which he sang in February 1906 and in which the fusion of the lyrical with the heroic can be heard very beautifully, shows: developed from a tender mezza voce, the voice blossoms more and more and unfolds on a splendid high C, which makes no signs of a troublesome plague. ” (Fisherman, great voices)

Salut, demeure chaste et pure  –  Caruso


Corelli’s interpretation is expressive, almost imploring (or “theatrical” depending on one’s point of view). The interpretation has less of French elegance but more of a Faust with a crowbar, but with a fascinating intensity.

Salut, demeure chaste et pure  –  Corelli


Thill was the most popular French tenor of the 20th century. His interpretation is aristocratically reserved and nostalgic. His high C is “at first uncertain and gains focus and sound after a hesitant beginning” (Kesting)

Salut, demeure chaste et pure  –  Thill


Giuseppe di Stefano was Maria Callas’ singing partner for many years. His voice was wonderfully lyrical and soft. The longtime opera director of the MET, Rudolf Bing (5000 Nights at the opera), did not always speak flatteringly about the person Giuseppe di Stefano. But about his Faust he spoke in the highest tone: “It was a real experience when I heard the diminuendo of his high C at “Salut, demeure” in Faust. As long as I live, I will not forget the beauty of this sound”.(Bing, 5000 Nights at the opera).

Salut, demeure chaste et pure  –  di Stefano




We hear an elegant and nuanced interpretation from Björling’s compatriot Gedda. Less expressive, but intimate. With a high C, as if it were the most natural in the world.

Salut, demeure chaste et pure  –  Gedda


Placido Domingo studied Caruso in his French roles and admired his exquisite singing as well as his French, on which he obviously worked very hard. The French language has the danger that the nasal sounds bad, so you have to be very careful that the language is sung beautifully.

Salut, demeure chaste et pure  –  Domingo








Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide to the aria “SALUT DEMEURE CHASTE ET PURE” from the opera Faust from Charles Gounod.







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