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A Merry Heber Christmas at the Bluebell Railway

  • Posted on: 30 December 2015
  • By: Heber Opera

You might think that between the end of our production in November, and the start of rehearsals in January for our Spring production, we would take a break from singing.  But Christmas is a special time of year for singers and many of us are involved in other choirs and groups, gearing up for some of their biggest productions of the year.

Christmas is also a very important time of year for Heber Opera as it provides us with not only one of our most enjoyable events but also a key fundraiser for the company, carol singing at the Bluebell Railway.  For 9 nights this December, we entertained the guests of the Bluebell Railway on their Golden Arrow Pullman dining service.  Our job is to lead the Christmas carols as the train arrives at Sheffield Park station and while they de-couple the engine and move it to the other end of the train ready for the journey back down the track.

We love to sing Christmas carols, particularly the harmonised versions arranged by David Willcocks and John Rutter.  Many of the guests will leave the train and join in the singing and together we make a wonderful seasonal sound.  After working our way through a good number of carols, the train is ready to depart and the guests return to their seats before the train steams off back towards Horsted Keynes.  Then we can have a well earned mince pie or slice of Christmas cake before the drive home.

Fairies, Phantoms and Fiends!

  • Posted on: 30 December 2015
  • By: Heber Opera

Following on from our Myths and Legends concerts in May 2015, during November, we performed the second set of our 2015 series of concerts: Fairies, Phantoms and Fiends.

Heber Concert

Opera usually focuses on love and death but very often it is the supernatural influence that determines the outcome, so we were looking at the operas where witches meddle with fate and fairies plague mortals, and where heroines fall in love with ghosts and ghosts make unreasonable demands of heroes. Oh, and vampires!

Heber Opera's musical director Michael Withers guided the audience through all the excerpts during the evening with an informative narrative that  put the operas into context and provided fascinating background information about the works and their composers.

The programme included witches in scenes from Dido and Aeneas (Purcell) and Macbeth (Verdi), fairies as portrayed by Vaughan Williams, Purcell and Sulllivan, and ghosts from Sullivan's Ruddigore and Wagner's Flying Dutchman.

Heber Concert

Even vampires will be under the microscope as we included extended excerpts from a little-known opera by Heinrich Marschner - Der Vampyr.

As Michael explains:

When we watch an opera we are usually thinking about the love story or the power struggle that forms the main story, but the real stars are often the supernatural elements that drive the main characters: just think of the witches in Macbeth or Mephistopheles in the Faust legends! And very often these supernatural characters inspire a composer's best music.

Heber Concert

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