For a long time, Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) was more acclaimed as a writer and translator than as a composer. He supplied a number of Italian opera creators with librettos and there is no doubt that his excellent texts played a role in the success of Verdi’s final works Otello and Falstaff. In Mefistofele, his one and only complete opera, Boito turned to the Faust theme. He considered the previous, extremely popular setting of Goethe’s Faust by Charles Gounod a superficial intellectual treatment of the multilayered drama. Boito himself made use of the German poet’s text almost literally, including the far less frequently staged second part. The premiere of Mefistofele at Milan’s La Scala on 5 March 1868 was a flop. Even though the Prologue, set in heaven and one of the most amazing opera scenes there is, enraptured the audience, their enthusiasm gradually ebbed away, to be ultimately replaced by booing, hissing and misunderstanding. Seven years later, Boito thoroughly revised and radically shortened the score. The first performance of the opera’s new version, on 4 October 1875 at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, was an unqualified success. Boito continued to make changes to Mefistofele until the definitive version was presented in 1881 at La Scala to great acclaim.