Happy New Year!

  • Posted on: 15 January 2024
  • By: Michael Withers

We’ve had a busy time at Heber Opera since our last email. We were delighted and privileged to be invited to sing in the Music Room at Brighton Pavilion for a Christmas concert (jointly with Brighton Chamber Choir) and also to entertain the diners at two of the Pavilion’s Christmas banquets. We were also very happy to have been invited back to the Bluebell Railway to provide carol singing for the Golden Arrow Christmas Dining trains.

It was lovely to be back singing again in the evocative surroundings of Horsted Keynes station.

Plans for 2024 Our plans for this year are still in flux. You can see from the photos elsewhere on this page that last year’s Tales of Hoffmann was a tremendous achievement and was hugely enjoyed by everyone who attended but it has left our finances a little strained!

We will be concentrating on fundraising performances this year – we aren’t planning another fully staged performance until 2025 - but we are counting on our supporters to continue to come along to concerts and other events that we have planned.

We are aiming to present a couple of ‘gala’-type concerts in the spring and autumn and we intend to hold more of our popular ‘Afternoon tea’ concerts. We can already announce the date of our very popular fundraising craft fair in Hurstpierpoint Village Centre which is on 23 November 2024.

Planning is underway for all these projects so watch this space for further information and dates when these become available.

Better still, why not join our mailing list so that you can be the first to hear about our events [link to: http://heberopera.co.uk/mailing]

In addition, we would love to hear any suggestions you might have for additional fundraising activities, or venues or organisations that might like to book Heber Opera for events.

Meanwhile, for anyone who might have been thinking of joining Heber Opera, there will be opportunities for taster sessions throughout the year. If you would like to learn more about what it takes to sing in opera, please contact Michael Withers (michael@heberopera.co.uk).

Last chance to see...! The Tales of Hoffman

  • Posted on: 30 September 2023
  • By: admin

This weekend we are performing our last 2 shows of Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman. We had an amazing time last weekend and we can't wait to do it all again! Tonight at Uckfield Civic Centre and tomorrow at Hurstpierpoint Village Centre.

Tales of Hoffman - Opening Night!

  • Posted on: 23 September 2023
  • By: David Roberts

Tonight we start our run of the Tales of Hoffman with a performance at King Edward Hall, Lindfield at 7:30pm. We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Tales of Hoffman 2023

  • Posted on: 20 June 2023
  • By: Michael Withers

Our ‘Page to stave’ concert was a great success. The programme included references to the literary origins of most of the pieces we played – emphasising that the stories of operas have their roots in book, plays and poems. We tried to mix the familiar choruses with some lesser-known but equally exciting extracts, so the audience enjoyed such pieces as the ‘Easter Hymn’ from Cavalleria Rusticana and ‘Speed your journey’ from Nabucco as well as the ‘House Beautiful’ scene from Vaughan Williams’ Pilgrim’s Progress and the peasant’s chorus from Boito’s Mefistofele’.

We were also privileged to be able to include two first performances. Tim Nail is our regular accompanist and Steve Hawksley gave a beautiful performance of Tim’s setting of the Yeats poem ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’. We were delighted that Nick Bicât was able to join us for the first performance of two pieces from his community work ‘Nova Drift’.

Tales of Hoffmann

We have already started rehearsing for our Autumn show, The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach.

Tales of Hoffmann tells the story of the four women that Hoffmann – a poet – has fallen in love with; they include a mechanical doll, a doomed singer and a courtesan. But Hoffmann is being watched over by the Muse of Poetry who has no intention of allowing Hoffmann’s love life to detract from writing his poetry!

The opera was written at the end of Offenbach’s life and they style is far removed from the frothy, satirical operettas he had written previously. Hoffmann is a much more romantic opera – often called an opera-fantastique, and it features a wealth of beautiful, lyrical tunes – including the famous ‘Barcarolle’.

The cast includes Veronica Brooks as Hoffmann’s loves, Matt Connolly as Hoffmann and Steve Hawksley as the villain, the voice of unmitigated evil!

There is still time to join the Heber Opera chorus for this production – if you are quick! If you are interested, please email Michael Withers before 25 June 2023 for more information.

Watch this space for more information about ‘The Tales of Hoffmann’ in the coming weeks.

Hoffmann will be performed in Lindfield, Steyning, Uckfield and Hurstpierpoint in September. Tickets for the performances will be available from 1 July 2023.

Heber Opera in 2023

  • Posted on: 12 March 2023
  • By: Michael Withers

2023 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Heber Opera.

Many of you will know that Dorothy Withers has decided to step down as director after last year’s production of Flotow’s Martha. We are so grateful for everything that she has contributed to Heber Opera over the years and we have been especially lucky to have her direct all the productions since 2015 with her usual flair for the dramatic and imaginative interpretations of the stories. She also created the singing translations for these productions. She will be sorely missed!

However, we are extremely lucky to have Ian Gledhill joining us as stage director. As well as decades spent translating and directing opera, Ian has a vast experience of the theatre including stage management and appearing on stage himself. He also lectures regularly on a variety of topics ranging from trams, transport and architecture to the history of Gilbert and Sullivan (together and separate) and the works of Jacques Offenbach. We are looking forward to the insight and enthusiasm that Ian will bring to our autumn show The Tales of Hoffmann.

Come and sing Hoffmann

We start the year’s activity with a new venture for Heber. We will be holding a launch event for our 2023 main production, The Tales of Hoffmann. This will take the form of a ‘come and sing’ workshop on Saturday 15 April 2023. It’s going to be a sort of ‘study day’ and will include introductory talks about Offenbach and his music as well as the opportunity to sing a couple of chorus sections and learn some basic staging with the principals. It’s an exciting opportunity to learn about an opera from the

If you would like to sign up, or just want a bit more information please contact Jenny Hawkes (jenny@heberopera.co.uk) or call 07770 962811

Concerts 2023

We have already started work preparing for two concerts to be held in May:

  • Saturday 20 May in King Edward Hall, Lindfield
  • Saturday 27 May in Hurstpierpoint Village Centre, Hurstpierpoint

This year we ask the question ‘where do the stories for operas come from?’ Most of the operas that are well-known today have their roots in literature. Some from plays, some books and short stories, a few even from poems – hence our concert’s title: ‘From page to stave’.

The programme will include readings from the original source literature to put our extracts into musical and literary context.

The programme will also include the first performance of a new work by Tim Nail, our indefatigable repetiteur. ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ is Tim’s setting of the W.B.Yeats poem for baritone, oboe, string quartet and piano. Steve Hawksley will be the baritone soloist.

Tickets will be available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/heberopera

Tales of Hoffmann

Our autumn show will be Offenbach’s last opera The Tales of Hoffmann, with performances at most of our regular venues:

  • Saturday 23 September in King Edward Hall, Lindfield
  • Sunday 24 September in the Steyning Centre, Steyning
  • Saturday 30 September in Uckfield Civic Centre
  • Sunday 1 October in Hurstpierpoint Village Centre

Put the dates in your diary and watch this space for further information.

Come and join us

We are very keen to welcome new members into the Heber Opera family. There are vacancies in all parts. The rehearsal atmosphere is friendly and very supportive and it’s a great opportunity to develop your singing and stagecraft.

Please pass the word to anyone you think might be interested; no operatic experience necessary, just a love of singing!

For more information or an informal chat please contact Michael Withers on 07802 735190 or email michael@heberopera.co.uk

Local composers feature in Heber Opera’s ‘Afternoon of seasonal favourites’

  • Posted on: 22 November 2022
  • By: Michael Withers

Heber Opera is never one to miss the opportunity to promote great music by local composers! Our programme on 3 December will feature three pieces by composers based in the south-east of England.

Peace on Earth by Mark Browse

We have sung this beautiful piece by Mark on several occasions and are looking forward to singing it again. Mark himself wrote both the words and the music for this lovely, evocative piece. His catalogue of pieces includes opera, oratorio and instrumental music. Mark was brought up in Sittingbourne and now lives in West Sussex.

God bless us every one by Nick Bicât

Nick Bicat is a BAFTA winning composer with a back-catalogue of over 150 scores and soundtracks for film, television, theatre and the concert hall. The carol ‘God bless us every one’ was written for the 1984 film A Christmas Carol, which starred George C. Scott. We have sung this joyful piece several times but Nick has prepared a new version that we shall be using this year.

Quem pastores laudavere by Tim Nail

Tim – who is Heber Opera’s regular repetiteur – is also an experienced composer. His recent Requiem was performed in Arundel Cathedral in October 2022. He has written many choral pieces and solo songs as well as opera and sacred music, and this will be the first performance of his Quem pastores laudavere.

Other items featured in the programme will include ‘O Holy Night’ (Adolphe Adam) and ‘Three Kings from Persian Lands (Peter Cornelius) with soloists Matt Connolly and Steve Hawksley, plus ‘Shepherds’ farewell’ by Berlioz and a host of other seasonal pieces.

During the interval mince pies and mulled wine will be served and accompanied by music from Heber Opera’s friends Double Duos.

The second half will feature well-known carols and an opportunity for the audience to join in.

Tickets are available now and selling fast!

Christmas Concert

  • Posted on: 1 November 2022
  • By: admin

Tickets are now available! Please follow the link below or alternatively, call the box office on 07340 251875.

Martha - The First Night

  • Posted on: 2 October 2022
  • By: admin

Our production of Martha opened last night in Steyning. The audience was fabulous and they were greatly appreciated by the cast and production team. It's a chance to see a rarely performed opera, sung in English and performed in the round with brilliant music from our orchestral ensemble.

Today we move on to Uckfield before finishing the run in Hustpierpoint next Saturday. There are still tickets available for tonight at Uckfield and they can be reserved using the ticket line - 07340 251875. Tickets for next Saturday's performance in Hustpierpoint can be booked online using the link below. We hope we will see you there!

Martha - The Dress Rehearsal!

  • Posted on: 2 October 2022
  • By: admin

The Heber cast love the dress rehearsal as it is our opportunity to run through the whole story in costume and with our fantastic orchestral ensemble.

The final build up to the opera begins the preceding week with the "sitzprobe", our opportunity to sit down with our scores and sing through the music with the orchestra for the first time. Michael Withers, our musical director, uses this time to integrate the musicians and the singers

The following week is the dress rehearsal where we get to run through the staging for the final time and work on our queues and props management as well as singing and acting. Our wonderful director, Dorothy Withers, gives us our final staging notes at the end of the rehearsal. Then we have just one more day to work on our roles before the opening night!

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