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Repertoire Workshop From Chicago: Mephistophela [1964]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0151
Run Time
0h 30m 33s
Date Produced
"Mephistophela" is a ballet based on the Faust story, choreographed by Ruth Page in 1963, with music arranged and orchestrated by Isaac Van Grove from the Faust scores of Berlioz, Boito, and Gounod; scenery and costumes were designed by André Delfau. The ballet premiered in Park Ridge, Illinois as part of the 1963 tour of Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet. 

The version recorded in this film is a special performance from the 1960s CBS television series Repertoire Workshop.  It was recorded on March 19, 1964 and performed by the Ruth Page Ballet.  Patricia Klekovic dances the role of Mephistophela (The Devil), Kenneth Johnson is Faust, Ellen Everett is Marguerite, Dolores Lipinski is The Duchess, and Larry Long is The Duke.
The film opens with a shot of the clapperboard for the present episode of Repertoire Workshop by WBBM Chicago.  This is followed by a blank screen and countdown beeps before a cut to a cloaked and bearded figure (Faust) wielding two wooden poles and combining them into different shapes, over which the title credits appear: "REPERTOIRE WORKSHOP from Chicago;" "presents THE RUTH PAGE BALLET;" "MEPHISTOPHELA."  Faust attempts to call Satan forth, who appears in the form of Mephistophela from a cloud of smoke.  The two dance a pas de deux of sorts, after which the aged Faust appears to be teetering on the edge of death.  At this point, Mephistophela produces the famous contract, offering him eternal youth in exchange for his soul.  He refuses at first, but she then conjures a vision (overlaid footage) of him as a younger man, dancing with a beautiful young woman.  Duly convinced of the contract's benefits, Faust eagerly signs the contract and sheds his age in a momentary spin.  

The film then cuts to a royal court full of dancers, with Mephistophela and young Faust together at center.  They soon move away to allow for the other dancers to break into couples and dance a brief introduction to a Duke and Duchess, along with a row of four female dancers.  The four women dance as an ensemble while the couple dances a pas de deux in front of them.  Mephistophela suddenly appears in another cloud of smoke and dances a solo, after which she calls forth young Faust to dance a solo of his own.  Next, she brings the Duke back to the stage and he is joined by various of the court dancers, first female and then male.  Faust returns to reprise his solo, during which Mephistophela clears the stage of all other dancers to let him strike his final pose alone.  The film cuts to a more dramatically lit version of the same set, and Mephistophela sends the Duchess to join Faust.  They dance a sensuous pas de deux.

The film then cuts to the next scene, in which Mephistophela has stirred up a group of demons.  With her hair now let down, the Duchess gleefully joins them with a suggestive solo, much to Faust's horror.  She begins to dance with the Goat-Man while the rest perform a chaotic ensemble dance behind them.  Just as the scene begins to reach its climax, the virginal Marguerite is carried onstage and instantly captures Faust's attention.  He rejects the Duchess, who now clings to him, but Marguerite is out of reach while the Duchess and demons surround and overwhelm him.  He collapses, and Mephistophela is triumphant.

But then Marguerite rises from behind Faust, sheathed in light, and rouses him.  The two dance a tender pas de deux, but then Mephistophela pushes him further and Marguerite recoils and tries to escape from Faust's more serious advances.  Mephistophela then supplies Faust with a betrothal ring, which he presents to Marguerite to soothe her, and the two walk away happily.

The camera cuts to a celebratory scene, once again inaugurated by Mephistophela.  Revelers come together in couples and dance as a lighthearted ensemble, after which Marguerite and Faust enter separately, prepared to be married.  The two dance a merry pas de deux while the others dance around them.  When the celebration is complete, the couple kneels to greet their priest, but it is really Mephitophela in disguise--she unleashes the angry Duchess on them.  The Duchess tries to stap Marguerite with a dagger, and the revelers who had danced with her (demons in disguise) try to hold her down.  Faust steps in and takes the dagger from the Duchess to save Marguerite but Mephistophela intervenes and causes him to accidentally stab her himself.  As Faust dances his solo of mourning and devastation, the excited Mephistophela again produces the contract, now voided.  Faust dances an angry, struggling pas de deux with Mephistophela but it is no use; flames (an effect) appear and begin to engulf Faust, now returned to his aged form, and Mephistophela stands over him triumphantly.  As the flames fill the whole screen, the final credits roll.  (See below.)
Main Credit
Lombardo, Phil (is director)
Thorsen, Arthur (is producer)
CBS (corporate name)
Additional Credit
Dahlberg, Edward (sound)
Itkin, Bella (is contributor)
Kayan, Neal (is contributor)
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Shapiro, Richard (is contributor)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Klekovic, Patricia (is performer)
Long, Larry (is performer)
Lipinski, Dolores (is performer)
Everett, Ellen (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)