Let’s make opera!

  • Posted on: 20 April 2022
  • By: Michael Withers

Find out how Heber Opera prepares a show!

Heber Opera is planning two opera workshops on Sat 21st (Steyning Centre) and Sun 22nd May (Uckfield Civic Centre), both regular performance venues for Heber. Each workshop will concentrate on chorus sections from a different opera.

The workshops will start with learning the music (words in English) and be followed by acting out the drama. At the end of the day’s workshop, solo singers will join us to present the piece to friends and family in an informal performance.

To take part in the workshops

There is a charge of £20 per workshop to take part, and we need to know by 6 May if you would like to join us. Contact our musical director Michael Withers on 07802 735190 or michael@heberopera.co.uk . Timetables for the workshops are below – note the different start times.

Steyning - Macbeth

Saturday 21 May

Uckfield - Il Trovatore

Sunday 22 May 2022

3pm - registration 2:30pm - registration
3:45-7:00pm - music and staging session 3:15-6:30pm music and stagin session
7:00pm - run through including soloists 6:30pm run through including soloists
8:00pm - 30 minute meal break 7:30pm - 30 minute meal break
8:45pm - Performance 8:30pm - performance

There is no charge to watch the performances, but donations will be welcome. The booking line for reserving a seat will open on Monday 9 May and the number to call and leave your request for seats (how many and which performance) is 07340 251875. There is a limit on numbers so it’s first come first served!

We do hope we will see some of you at our workshops; feel free to pass this information on to friends and family who may be interested.

Welcome to 2022!

  • Posted on: 16 January 2022
  • By: Michael Withers

Happy New Year!

We hope everyone has had an enjoyable and relaxing Christmas break and is rested and ready to tackle 2022 and all that it might bring.

It’s been a difficult two years for the arts and Heber Opera is no exception. We did manage a series of concerts and some carol singing just before Christmas at St Anne’s Well Gardens, Hove.

Now we are in the final stages of planning an exciting programme of activities for the year that will, we hope, provide an opportunity to welcome new members and to get back to what we do best, a fully staged performance in the autumn.

Watch this space for more details.

Sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear.

October 2021 Concerts

  • Posted on: 7 November 2021
  • By: Dorothy Withers

We are pleased to report that our October concerts went very well. Rehearsals were a bit strange to start with due to social distancing and all the sanitising required to keep Covid at bay and similarly we took every precaution in the concert venues in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. Ticket sales were a bit on the low side but we had anticipated this would be the case not only because of on-going public concerns related to Covid but also the much publicised petrol “shortages”. Fortunately the latter eased shortly before the first concert and sales picked up including some last minute purchases on the day.

Audience members seemed genuinely delighted to be back out in public listening to music again and as well as many complimentary remarks we also gained one or two new followers. It was lovely to look out into the audience and recognise some friendly and familiar faces so if you managed to get to one of the concerts thank you for your support and hopefully you enjoyed the experience. Certainly for our singers it fulfilled a long-awaited wish to sing together and perform in public once again.

So, moving on – normally we would be looking at providing carols for The Bluebell Railway throughout December but as they are not running their evening dinner trains again this year our services are not required. This has been a good fundraising exercise over the past several years so we shall miss that seasonal influx into our coffers. Looking ahead to 2022 we are still deciding what might be possible bearing in mind the recent government warnings that Covid is still with us and restrictions may be tightened up again. We are considering moving our next production into October but obviously this depends on a number of things such as singers’ availabilities so we cannot make any firm announcements just yet. Recruitment is also a big issue - we have a few people waiting to audition but it would be really good to get some younger people involved so if you know of anyone who is interested in singing, and importantly, fit and active, do ask them to get in touch for more details.

We will post news on our website as and when there is anything to report and meanwhile once again, thank you all for your support which we really do appreciate.

Stay well and all good wishes from everyone at Heber Opera.

Heber Opera Sings Again!

  • Posted on: 24 August 2021
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

Heber Opera are delighted to be performing a series of concerts this Autumn

Tickets will be available from 1st September

Light at the end of the tunnel?

  • Posted on: 3 May 2021
  • By: Michael Withers

Hope you are enjoying the spring weather which we are having at the moment.

The Heber Opera management team continues to monitor the pandemic situation as we are all very keen to return to rehearsing and performing as soon as we can. The recent progress through the government’s roadmap means that we are delighted to announce that (Covid restrictions permitting), Heber Opera are planning three short concerts in October as follows:

  • Sunday 10th - Uckfield
  • Saturday 16th - Steyning
  • Sunday 17th - Hurstpierpoint

The concerts will be short programmes of solos, ensembles and choruses accompanied with the Heber chamber ensemble.

Of course we are still in the lap of the gods regarding any social distancing or other legal requirements in October so we cannot even be certain how many people will be allowed in the audience! For that reason we cannot put tickets on sale yet. When they ARE available, tickets will be £10 (no concessions) and available from Ticket Source. We will circulate flyers with booking details just as soon as we can, but in the meantime please put the dates in your diaries.

Thank you for all your support in the past and we look forward to welcoming you to performances in the future. Stay safe and well.

The Heber Opera Management Team

Opera in a time of pandemic

  • Posted on: 23 November 2020
  • By: Michael Withers

We’ve been struggling for most of 2020 to find ways of performing opera. Freelance singers and musicians have been badly hit by the pandemic and the lack of performances of any kind for most of the year, and it doesn’t look as though it’s going to get any better until well into next year. The issue, of course, is that opera is a dramatic medium; socially distanced opera performances can’t replicate the tension or passion of physical closeness. Glyndebourne managed a live socially distanced performance of Offenbach’s ‘Mesdames de la Halle’ and the energy of the performance almost made us forget though the cleverness of the production reminded us throughout that the characters were not to get too close.

Two other companies have resorted to digital media to attempt to present Covid-secure opera.

A virtual Hansel and Gretel

Iford Arts, a Wiltshire-based company known for its educational outreach activities, launched ‘Gingerbread!’ in August. This production cleverly uses Zoom-style home recordings against special backdrops to tell the Hansel and Gretel story in a digital medium.

You can find this performance on YouTube Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOgmTXA6hQs where you will also find links to the subsequent episodes.

The Virtual Opera Project

Taking the idea one step further, one hugely enterprising solution has been the ‘Virtual Opera Project’. This performance of Ravel’s opera ‘L’enfant et les sortileges’ was undertaken in collaboration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Concordia Foundationand is a full-scale digital creation directed by Rachel Hewer. All the singers were recorded at home, the orchestra was recorded socially distanced, actors worked in green-screen studio to provide the ‘bodies’ for the singers. The effect, brilliantly stylised, is remarkable.

Of even more interest to Heber members and supporters is the fact that the conductor was Lee Reynolds, who many will remember from Lewes Operatic, and who played in our orchestra for a number of shows. He also prepared the reduced arrangement of Ravel’s score. Well done, Lee, brilliant achievement! (And if you read the cast list, you’ll find that Grace Lovelass sang in the chorus.)

The production is available on YouTube, but only for 30 days from 16 November: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTkwaB8l4SA

If you are impressed with this digital creation, please consider making a donation.

Looking back - and looking forward to next year!

  • Posted on: 12 May 2020
  • By: Chrissie Berridge

All live theatre productions are cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and Heber Opera is no exception. Normally we would be in the last few rehearsals for our planned production of Martha.

Instead during this period of lockdown we have been looking back at some of our previous productions. Here are just a few images from Heber Opera's previous productions, taken during rehearsals as well as show performances.

The cast and production team are looking forward to resuming our productions next year, when Martha can be staged.