|William Finley as the Phantom|
As a parable, the Faust myth has fascinated a long list of artists from all fields (for maybe the obvious reason that the hunger for immortal acclaim is at its root). The allure of the story inspired Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, which was written as far back as 1591, three years before the author was killed in a street brawl. Mozart also caught the bug in 1775 when he composed his opera Don Giovanni, a Don Juan story that the composer was inspired to turn into a Faustian one. Hector Berlioz composed a colourful dramatic cantata, The Damnation of Faust, but (like De Palma's Phantom) it was greeted with little enthusiasm when it premièred in Paris in 1846. On the other hand, Charles Gounod, whose previous work had gone unnoticed, had his first major success with his opera Faust in 1859. Italian painter and composer Arrigo Boito, who found early fame writing librettos for Verdi's Otello (1886) and Falstaff (1893), turned to Goethe's Faust for higher glory in his opera, Mefistofele (1886). Even modernist composers couldn't resist the seduction of the tale. In Igor Stravinsky's 1918 chamber work, L'Histoire du Soldat (A Soldier's Tale), the Devil (in disguise) offers a soldier an old book filled with wisdom in exchange for his violin. American composer, Frank Zappa, who fell in love with Stravinsky's work as a teenager, reworked L'Histoire du Soldat in 1976 into a wickedly profane and funny oratorio, "Titties 'n' Beer," in which the Devil devours a motorcycle outlaw's girlfriend, plus his case of beer, which he says he'll return in exchange for the biker's soul.