La Belle Hélène: furiously funny French operatic fizz comes to East Grinstead

In collaboration with Opera della Luna, the Lewes-based community company New Sussex Opera (NSO) stages one of the most sparkling works by Offenbach the French master of comic opera. He is most famous for composing the cancan, which appears in his first operetta, Orpheus in the Underworld. The show is touring Sussex – including the Chequer Mead theatre in East Grinstead – a perfect venue for opera, with great views from all seats – before going to London.

La Belle Hélène is packed with toe-tapping tunes that will stay with you for long after. If you like Gilbert and Sullivan, you’ll love this – Sullivan was strongly influenced by Offenbach, though there’s something unmistakably French about the fizz and foolery of La Belle Hélène too. A  talented cast bring this hilarious farce to life. Prepare for plenty of surprises in director Jeff Clarke’s version of the story of the lovely Helen of Troy. Fully staged and sung in English in a new translation written by the director himself. Stuffy it isn’t.

It’s the first time New Sussex Opera have worked together with Opera della Luna – a small, professional outfit renowned for their brilliant comic productions of operetta and opera. The NSO chorus, who feature three members from Forest Row and have been in many productions with NSO are Kitty Needham, Alison Read and Ruth Loughton (who is also Chair of New Sussex Opera) are joined by the outstanding St Paul’s Sinfonia conducted by Toby Purser (who has conducted abroad as well as at English National Opera).

The highly talented professional cast includes Hannah Pedley, Anthony Flaum (Paris), Paul Featherstone (Menelaus), Catherine Backhouse (Orestes) and Jennifer Clark (Bacchis).

“One of the UK’s most enterprising small opera companies, New Sussex Opera constantly surprises with its ambition and the quality of its fully staged productions.” Opera Now September 2018

For booking information, see

Performance schedule: Lewes Town Hall, Wednesday November 13, 7 pm

Tickets: Raked seating £34, Stalls £31, £28 (students & children 50% reduction) or 0333 666 3366

Congress Theatre, Eastbourne, Sunday November 17, 4 pm. Tickets £36, £31, £24 (students & children 50% reduction) or 01323 412000

Chequer Mead, East Grinstead, Thursday November 28, 7 pm. Tickets £31 including booking fee (students & children £21) or 01342 302000

The Old Market, Upper Market Street, Hove, Sunday December 1, 4 pm. Tickets £35, £28 (students & children 50% reduction) or 01273 201801

The Bloomsbury Theatre, Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AH, Thursday December 5, 7 pm

Tickets £50, £40, £30, £25 (students & children 50% reduction) or           020 3108 1000