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Acclaimed American singer to deliver a devil of a performance with NZSO

American Eric Owens, one of the world’s greatest living bass-baritones, will perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra this month in two performances of Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust.

Owens, named 2017 Vocalist of the Year by the influential Musical America magazine, has performed with many of the world’s greatest orchestras and opera companies. He is in demand performing a wide range of work from Beethoven to Wagner to contemporary opera, including a role in the Grammy Award-winning recording of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic.

Owens is also passionate about bringing opera to new audiences and this has led to involvement in performances for prison inmates.

The Damnation of Faust, inspired by Goethe’s play Faust about a world-weary scholar tempted by the devil, is one of French composer Hector Berlioz’s most dramatic and lauded works.

Owens will sing Méphistophélès and is joined by three other international stars - English tenor Andrew Staples singing Faust, Russian mezzo-soprano Alisa Kolosova singing Faust’s beloved Marguerite  and Australian bass James Clayton singing as the student Brander. The four will be accompanied by the 70-strong Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus, Wellington and the NZSO under the baton of Music Director Edo de Waart.

De Waart is highly regarded as an opera conductor, including performances at Bayreuth, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Opéra de Bastille, and The Met. He is excited to conduct his first concert opera with the NZSO.

“It’s an impressive cast, a great composition and a story we all know,” he says.

Andrew Staples is considered one of Britain’s best concert singers, as well as famed as a director and photographer. He’s performed with leading orchestras and conductors, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with Sir Simon Rattle; the London Symphony Orchestra with Daniel Harding and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Alisa Kolosova has performed to great acclaim in many of the world’s most prestigious theatres, including the Opéra National de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper, Salzburg Festival, Wiener Staatsoper, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and performed at venues including the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Kennedy Centre and Carnegie Hall. 

James Clayton has been lauded by audiences and reviewers for his performances in the opera houses and concert halls of Australia and New Zealand. His recent roles have included Escamillo in New Zealand Opera’s 2017 production of Carmen.


Attached images of Eric Owens, Andrew Staples, Alisa Kolosova and James Clayton. Please credit accordingly. Hi-res versions are also available.

For further information, more images and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Tom Cardy | Publicist

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra | Te Tira Pūoro o Aotearoa
M +64 275 745 294


The Damnation of Faust: Concert Opera


EDO DE WAART Conductor



ERIC OWENS Méphistophélès




BERLIOZ La Damnation de Faust

WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre| Friday 25 August| 6.30pm

AUCKLAND | Town Hall| Sunday 27 August| 2.30pm

The Story

The aging Faust (Andrew Staples) is tired of life and contemplates taking poison. Suddenly Méphistolphélès (Eric Owens), the devil personified, appears before him with a proposal to restore Faust’s youth and grant all he desires. Faust accepts and Méphistolphélès takes him to a tavern where Brander (James Clayton), a student, is singing about kitchen rats which disgusts Faust. Later Méphistolphélès shows him a vision of a beautiful woman called Marguerite (Alisa Kolosova). Faust falls in love with her and Méphistolphélès deceives her into falling in love with Faust.  Finally, Marguerite is in prison having accidentally killed her mother. She will be hanged but Méphistolphélès promises to save her if Faust sells his soul to him. Faust agrees and Méphistolphélès instead takes him to hell, where he’s welcomed by demons.