Terry Gilliam - the sole American member of the original Monty Python troupe - has lost none of his devilish ability to provoke. For his operatic debut with Berlioz' The Damnation of Faust at English National Opera he has threatened to turn the English surtitles into the original French. If you thought his fantastical and highly theatrical movies had exhausted his ability to shock and surprise, think again.

In this exclusive OperaCast Giliam tells Edward Seckerson (whilst doodling his thoughts on a huge sheet of cartridge paper) that Berlioz' curious hybrid of an oratorio - which he eventually called "a dramatic legend" - appealed in a filmic way because so much of the dramatic narrative happens between its elaborate tableaux. So he's storyboarded the entire staging and, like Mephistopheles himself, his capricious imagination has gone into overdrive. What, one might ask, has Faust sold his soul for this time around? Think Goethe, think German art and history from the late 19th century to the mid-20th. And never forget, says Gilliam, that the London Coliseum was once a variety theatre. Go figure.

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