ACT I. Scene One.
Alone in his study, the elderly Dr. Faust despairs at the emptiness of his life of study and science. Twice he raises a goblet of poison to his lips but falters when the songs of young men and women outside his window awaken the unfulfilled passions of his youth. Cursing God and the futility of life, he calls on Satan for help. The Devil appears, and Faust tells him of his longing for youth and pleasure. Méphistophélès replies that his desires can be realized if he will forfeit his soul. Faust hesitates until Mephisto conjures up a vision of a lovely innocent girl - Marguerite. Faust agrees. A magic potion transforms him into a handsome young man. He leaves with Méphistophélès in search of Marguerite.
ACT I. Scene Two.
Soldiers and townspeople gather for a fair. A young officer, Valentin, is holding a medallion from his sister Marguerite. He asks his friend Siébel to protect Marguerite while he (Valentin) is off at war. Wagner, a student, starts a lively song but is interrupted by Méphistophélès, who delivers an impudent hymn in praise of greed and gold. Méphistophélès then amazes the crowd by causing new wine to flow from an old keg. When he makes a brazen toast to Marguerite, Valentin draws his sword, but it shatters. The other soldiers, recognizing Satan, hold their swords like crosses before Méphistophélès, who cowers before them. As the crowd begins a waltz, Faust speaks to Marguerite. She refuses to let him escort her home. Méphistophélès returns to lead the merrymakers in their dance.
Siébel briefly visits Marguerite's garden to leave her a bouquet of flowers. The romantic youth is followed by Faust and Méphistophélès, who leaves to search for a gift that will outshine Siébel's. Left alone, Faust hails Marguerite's simple home. Méphistophélès returns with a box of jewels that he places near Siébel's flowers. When Marguerite arrives, she sits by her spinning wheel to sing a ballad, and interrupts the verses with reflections on the stranger she has met. Discovering the gifts, the girl exclaims in delight as she adorns herself with jewels. Méphistophélès detours a nosy middle-aged neighbor, Marthe, by flirting with her, so that Faust may complete his seduction. As Méphistophélès invokes a night full of stars, Marguerite confesses her love, but nevertheless begs Faust to leave. The Devil mocks Faust's failure and points to Marguerite, who has reappeared at her window. As she ecstatically expresses her love for Faust, they meet and embrace. She yields to his embraces, as Méphistophélès' taunting laughter is heard in the garden.
ACT III. Scene One.
In the town square, Valentin and his comrades return from war, singing the glory of those slain in battle. He questions Siébel about Marguerite but receives only evasive replies. Puzzled, he enters his house. Faust, remorseful at having abandoned the now pregnant Marguerite, arrives with Méphistophélès who serenades the girl with a lewd ballad. Valentin defends his sister's honor and fights a duel with Faust. At a crucial moment, Méphistophélès intervenes, and Faust kills Valentin. As the Devil drags Faust away, Marguerite kneels by her fatally wounded brother. Valentin curses her with his last breath.
ACT III. Scene Two.
Marguerite seeks refuge in church, only to be pursued by Méphistophélès. He curses her and torments her with threats of damnation.
ACT III. Scene Three.
The Witches’ Sabaath. Méphistophélès conjures the spirits of Cleopatra and Thais, offering them to Faust in an orgy of feast and pleasure. They hand Faust a potion to make him forget Marguerite, but to no avail. An image of Marguerite, tortured and in prison, comes to Faust, and he rushes to her side.
ACT III. Scene Four.
In prison for murdering her newborn child, Marguerite lies asleep. Faust and Méphistophélès enter. They hope to convince her to escape with them. As Méphistophélès keeps watch, Faust wakens Marguerite. At first she is overjoyed to see her lover, but instead of fleeing with him her, she recalls their first days of happiness. When Méphistophélès emerges from the shadows urging them to leave, Marguerite recognizes him as Satan. She calls on the angels of Heaven to save her. The drums sound to announce her impending walk to the gallows. Méphistophélès pronounces her condemnation, but a choir of angels proclaims that her contrition has saved her.