March 06, 2019

Stars of Lyric’s New FAUST Share Their Excitement

The cast members for Lyric’s new Faust have had a devilishly good time, rehearsing with passion and gusto. Hear what some of them say about their roles and the experience.

Tenor Benjamin Bernheim (American debut): “I love Gounod’s Faust, the first major French role I sang onstage. It feels special to have it growing and developing in my mind, my imagination, and my voice. Faust is complex and very passionate, full of anger and tenacity, but he can also be very tender. The best part to sing is Act Three with Marguerite, where we can see what beauty and tenderness there can be between two people. This new production is an unbelievable gift. I feel very lucky and honored to be part of it. It’s incredible to make my U.S. debut in such a major house as Lyric. I thank the whole administration and particularly Anthony Freud for giving me this Faust.”

Soprano Ailyn Pérez: “The role of Marguerite often comes with lighter, more innocent expectations. She is highly instinctual, obsessive, spiritual, and introverted. She is mostly lost in her internal solitude, tormented by her hope, and left with confusion descending into madness. Her final lines and salvation are a sharp change, like a sudden sanity. My interpretation is entirely new, due to this production and this cast. We are all delving into the world of [artist/production designer] John Frame and Faust. All the details and technical work we are creating together will result in an unforgettable Faust for Chicago. I was born and raised here, and for me, debuting in this theater with Marguerite is an honor and a joy. I’m very thankful to have an opportunity to share my artistry with my home town and my family, and sing for a new audience,”

Bass-baritone Christian Van Horn: “For me, playing Méphistophélès is the most fun a singer can have. There is nothing better than being the puppet master and controlling most of the action. Mephisto is at his best when he’s having a great time, so that’s the way I like to play him. Everyone in the story is going through this extreme drama, but Méphistophélès is just laughing and enjoying all the crazy. I think Mephisto hunts a new Faust every weekend, so to that end he can just enjoy the story unfolding.” 

Baritone Edward Parks: “I'm excited to make my debut with Lyric. Working here has always been a goal of mine, and I couldn’t ask for a better scenario. Working so closely with John Frame is really incredible. His work is haunting and stunning, and it’s a perfect match for this production. It’s also great to work with [director] Kevin Newbury and [set and costume designer] Vita Tzykun again, after the world premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs in Santa Fe. Valentin is one of my favorite roles in the French repertoire. He is heroic and strong in his convictions. My colleagues are incredible artists, and I’m really looking forward to sharing the stage with all of them.” 

New Lyric coproduction of Gounod’s Faust generously made possible by

Liz Stiffel

Henry M. and Gilda R. Buchbinder

Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson

Ethel and William Gofen

Harris Family Foundation

Christian Van Horn's appearance generously sponsored by Lois B. Siegel.

Faust is a coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Portland Opera.

Photos: Andrew Cioffi, Cory Weaver