New Sussex Opera (NSO) is set to stage a new production of Gounod’s grand opera Faust (1859) in June. The Lewes-based company is now looking for singers to fill the roles of Faust, Méphistophélès and Valentin.

Set in 16th century Germany, Gounod’s tragedy draws on Goethe’s play of the same name, based on the German legend of a man who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for knowledge and power. In the opera, however, Faust rejects these, wanting only to recapture the innocence of youth.

The ageing Dr Faust has dedicated his life to study, but has come to the conclusion that he has wasted his years and that his research has achieved nothing – other than causing him to miss out on life and love. He enters into a bargain with the devilish Méphistophélès in which he will regain his youth in return for his eternal soul.

Newly young again, Faust sets out to make up for lost time by seducing the beautiful Marguerite, sister of the soldier Valentin and beloved of the youth Siébel. The innocent girl is no match for Faust’s wiles and she ends up pregnant, only to be abandoned by the doctor. Desperate and devastated, Marguerite kills their child and is imprisoned for her crime.

She repudiates her erstwhile lover and gives her own life to save her soul. She enters Heaven, while Faust is dragged down to Hell by Méphistophélès.

This fully staged new production is presented by New Sussex Opera Chorus and will be sung in English. Former chorus member and NSO committee member Cate Crockford will be directing, with NSO chorus master and conductor Nick Houghton as musical director.

NSO has put out a call for male soloists to play three of the main roles: Faust, Méphistophélès and Valentin. Auditions will be held in Lewes on 16 February, or 24th if necessary. For more details email Fran Mortimer with your CV and a recent photo. For NSO Chorus productions, solo roles are unpaid and all singers are welcome to audition for these roles. Rehearsals will take place in Lewes, mostly on Sunday afternoons.

There are also opportunities to join the NSO chorus. Amateur and local singers are invited to be part of the group – no previous operatic experience is needed. Email chorus manager Tim Locke for further details.

Performance venues and dates are: The Assembly Room, Chichester, on 3 June at 7pm; Birley Centre, Eastbourne, 4 June at 4pm; All Saints Centre, Lewes, 7pm on 10 June and 3pm on 11 June; and The Old Market, Hove, at 4pm on 18 June.

Tickets go on sale soon and will be available from New Sussex Opera.



New Sussex Opera is looking for singers for main roles in its new English-language production of Gounod’s Faust.