When Arrigo Boito, an Italian composer and librettist, created his first version of the opera Mephistopheles and presented it to Milan audiences in 1868, it was a catastrophic failure.
Not only was it excessively long due to constant interruptions from audience members, but his philosophical style triggered riots and duels. Police shut it down after only two performances.
Fortunately, that is not the version audiences will see as the New Century Opera presents Mephistopheles tonight, Saturday and Sunday.
What they'll see is a revised edition of the opera that won wide acclaim seven years later, after Boito tweaked his original concept.
"This version is wonderful, dramatic and exciting," said director Constantine Grame. "We (New Century Opera) have actually recovered a rare piece of music (the Symphonic Intermezzo), long thought lost and unique to the original version, which will be making its first appearance in the opera since the two performances in 1868."
The show runs three hours, including two intermissions.
Helen Campbell, a retired singer turned seamstress, is heading up the costume design, which involves more than 100 costumes for a cast of 32.
The New Century Opera Chorus is joined by the New Century Ballet and Children's Chorus, as well as performers from the Dance Evolutions studio in Tarpon Springs.
The opera, sung in English, is set in 16th century Germany, where Faust sells his soul to the devil, Mephistopheles, in exchange for a variety of earthly pleasures.
"He becomes a naughty boy," said Grame. "The devil takes him anywhere in time that he wants to go. He becomes his tour guide. Ultimately, Faust chooses whether to accept or reject these temptations."