Luca Pisaroni confesses, semi-solemnly — that as an adolescent in Italy he was unpopular. “I was the only one who liked opera.” Raised on a diet of his grandfather’s opera collection, he says, he knew early on that was the art form for him.

The bass-baritone who speaks English, French, Spanish and Italian and says “I survive:” in German, will be making his role debut as Mephistopheles in this month’s Houston Grand Opera production of Faust.

As the eternal story goes, aging and disappointed in life, Faust sells his soul to the devil – Mephistopheles – in return for youth and the chance to gain the affections of a beautiful young woman.

The deal, of course, goes bad long before he is dragged away to hell, but the opera — Gounod’s adaptation of Goethe’s play — has all the right parts: an arresting story and beautiful music.

“It’s the story of us, human beings. We are on a quest for our meaning on Earth. Which direction are we going? What can we do?” says Pisaroni.

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