Charles Gounod (1818-1893) was a French composer, best known for his Ave Maria as well as his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette. Gounod wrote his first opera, Sapho, in 1851, with the help of Pauline Viardot, but had no great theatrical success until Faust (1859), based on the play by Goethe. This remains his best-known work, and although it took a while to achieve great renown, it eventually became one of the most frequently staged operas of all time.

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