New Sussex Opera will mount a new production of Handel’s pastoral opera Acis and Galatea (1718) at venues across Sussex this summer. The opera marks two ‘firsts’ for the Lewes-based company: its first Handel opera and its first using period instruments

With an English libretto written by dramatist and poet John Gay, the opera is based on a story from Greek mythology. The sea nymph Galatea and human shepherd Acis are in love. However, their happiness is threatened by the jealousy of the cyclops Polyphemus, who wants Galatea for himself. In a murderous rage, Polyphemus kills Acis and Galatea uses her divine magic to transform his body into a beautiful fountain.

This new production is directed by David Foster and Cate Crouch. The New Sussex Opera Baroque Ensemble comes under the baton of conductor Nicholas Houghton. British tenor Alex Akhurst sings the role of Acis, with British soprano Kathryn MacRae as Galatea. British baritone Andrew Robinson plays the monstrous Polyphemus and British soprano Olivia Hemmings sings Damon, Acis’s best friend, in a trouser role.

Acis and Galatea will tour to venues around Sussex in May and June. The tour starts at The Birley Centre, Eastbourne, with performances on 28 and 29 May. It then visits All Saints’ Centre, Lewes, on 5 and 18 June, before closing at The Old Market, Hove, on 19 June.

Booking for the Eastbourne and Lewes performances is open now, with tickets costing £23, or £11.50 for students. Booking for Hove will open soon. Tickets and further details are available from New Sussex Opera’s website.

The production will be introduced at a special launch day on 13 March. Audiences can hear all about New Sussex Opera’s plans for the opera, with director David Foster explaining his intentions for the staging. Soloists will also perform selected arias from the opera.

This free event will take place at St Pancras RC Primary School, Lewes, from 2-5pm.

As a community-based company, New Sussex Opera invites members of the public to get involved in its productions, either as part of the chorus or backstage. You can find out more about the opportunities on offer at the launch day; anyone who can’t make the day, but would like to be involved should contact the chorus manager, Tim, via email.

All singers are invited to apply for the chorus. Auditions will be held later in March. Rehearsals will be on Sunday afternoons, with some Friday evenings, in Lewes.



New Sussex Opera will be bringing its new production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea to venues around Sussex this summer.