All the way to India for Pearl Fishers costumes!

  • Posted on: 18 February 2016
  • By: Julie Emerton

During a recent visit to India I was on a mission to buy all the costume fabric for Heber’s upcoming production of ‘The Pearl Fishers’ at a fraction of the cost here in the UK.

A textile outlet in Jaipur was the first port of call for saris. The half-hour tuk-tuk ride to get there was the maddest I’ve ever experienced – crazy Indian driving in chaotic traffic in the dark (no headlights) – like a rollercoaster on the ground. Couldn’t stop laughing...

Our driver waited for the hour it took to find the least expensive saris in an amazing choice of colours and fabrics.

Finally, purchases made... just needed to complete the paperwork.

After travelling south our final destination before returning home was Cherrai Beach. The nearby town was not for tourists but had an abundance of clothing stores where I found lungis for the men at local prices.

Couldn’t resist some more sari fabric as well...

And this is what the (pearl) fishers might look like!

Back to Blocking

  • Posted on: 13 January 2016
  • By: Chrissie Berridge

Last night’s open rehearsal for The Pearl Fishers was in full swing when I dropped in with the first of the props on my list.


Michael was busy with the baton (with Tim doing the honours at the keyboard), while his wife Dorothy took charge with her directorial debut (stepping into Heber founder, Roger Clow’s well worn shoes). As Michael had bought his camera along I took advantage and took some shots of these early proceedings.

It was great to see some new faces joining in enthusiastically while the old hands simply looked delighted to re-enter the Heber Opera fray. At these earliest of rehearsals it can seem a confusing mix of music and movement. But everyone was taking their first footsteps with a determination to get a feel for what lay ahead. Whether it was the cake bought along for interval refreshment, or the lure of the pub afterwards, I wasn’t sure, but I’m pretty certain everyone will be back for more!

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