The Pearl Fishers opened last weekend to full houses in both Lindfield and Hurstpierpoint. First night's are always a nerve wracking affair but we got a wonderful reception from the audience at Lindfield and we love the intimate venue which really helps us to deliver on our promise of being "opera that's close enough to touch".
As always we sing in English and perform in the round with music courtesy of the Heber Opera ensemble and the principals and chorus who work their socks off to bring the drama to the audience as well as the music. We also have a few innovations for this production, fabulous lighting from PitchBlack, costumes from India and genuine oysters. Our second show in Hurstpierpoint was another sell-out and we got a great reception there too.
There are still a few tickets left for the shows this week but they are selling fast so hurry up and book if you haven't done so already!
It's less than a week to go until the opening night of "The Pearl Fishers" and the cast and backstage crew have been working hard to put the finishing touches to the production. In this short video you can find out more about what goes on behind the scenes.
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The props list for Heber Opera’s production of The Pearl Fishers includes oyster shells. It was my job to find them. This wasn’t a problem as I work close to English’s Oyster Bar in central Brighton. When I called in to ask, they were happy to save their leftovers for me. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was the work involved in cleaning them!
English’s customers had already enjoyed the best part of the process– eating the oysters. I have to admit however, that I am not a fan of seafood, and the proprietor of the establishment told me that I would need to remove the last vestiges of the flesh, before boiling the shells before use on stage. I can’t say that I was thrilled at the task but needs must.
When I got the shells home I set about prising away the fleshy remnants – with knife, and then teaspoon. Not without injury as the edges of the shells can be sharp as my fingers will testify. Soon I had a pile of grisly bits and a pervading fishy scent of the sea working its way through my house. But I got a production line going; removal of flesh, boiling of shells, draining and rinsing.
As I had to scrutinise each shell, I found them actually quite pretty and I can see that I will most likely end up hanging on to them. They can go with my scallop shells – and they’re still awaiting their turn centre stage!
Hurstpierpoint Village Centre was the place to be on Saturday 9th April. Heber Opera hosted another successful craft fair with plent of stalls selling all manner of wonderful hand-made items. The turnout was excellent, everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves and we raised much needed funds for our future productions. My personal highlight was, as always, the huge spread of delicious cakes, biscuits and snacks layed on by the talented ladies of the Heber Chorus!
Bizet is a firm favourite with opera fans and Carmen's great moments are instantly recognisable to almost everyone regardless of their love of opera. But Bizet's first full length opera was "The Pearl Fishers" some 10 years before Carmen. In this short video, Dorothy Withers looks at the history of "The Pearl Fishers", from its origins at the Theatre Lyrique in Paris, to its place in the mainstream operatic repertoire today.
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!
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!