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Lamont students to stage Faust

Derrick Parker and Andy Lunsford rehearse for their upcoming performance of Faust.

In some ways it’s a shame that Lamont Opera’s production of Faust — the first fall opera in the school’s history — didn’t open a week earlier. With its themes of murder, betrayal and deals with the Devil, it would have been perfect for Halloween.

“The theme of this opera is about as basic as you can get,” DU professor and opera director Kenneth Cox says of Charles Gounoud’s musical retelling of Goethe’s classic tale of a scholar who sells his soul to the Devil. “It’s good vs. evil, the evil being represented by Mephisto and the good being represented by Marguerite, and Faust is the good person who is kind of a victim of his own wishes, wishing for youth and immortality.”

Cox originally was slated to sing Mephisto, alternating performances with famed bass Hao Jiang Tian (MA ’87). But when Tian bowed out, Cox decided to focus on directing and called in bassos Derrick Parker and Jamie Offenbach as his new Mephistos.

“The two Mephistos we have here are brilliant,” Cox says.

Considered a “grand” opera due to its majestic music and lavish set, Faust is a welcome stretch for current students.

“For me, I really feel like it was the perfect challenge,” says grad student and soprano Jillian Lee, who will sing Marguerite opposite guest performer Andy Lunsford, the “accidental tenor” who discovered his talent for opera after his Denver-based granite countertop business went bankrupt. “Just challenging enough that I could work and be successful at it. I’m still very young to sing this role — professionally it will probably be some time before I sing it — but to have it in my repertoire and learn it now and be able to get it on stage and be able to sing with Andy Lunsford; who’d say no to that? It’s an unbelievable opportunity, and at this point in my career I’m just honored to have the opportunity to do this.”

Cox says the combination of challenging material and being the first Lamont students to perform in a fall opera has the musicians extra excited about Faust.

“I think the students are really getting a kick out of being involved and I think they can see that this is really an important work,” he says. “Not that we haven’t done important works in the past — La Boheme and Magic Flute and Carmen, those are great operas, but Faust, there’s a weight to it, there’s an importance to the music that I think sets it apart. It’s on a slightly different level than what we’ve done in the past.”

The Lamont Opera’s production of Faust plays at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3–5 and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 6. Tickets — $11–$30 — are available through the Newman Center box office, Visit for more information.

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