REVIEW: Choir’s successful Night at the Opera

Mid Sussex Choir, Night at the Opera Concert, Perrymount Road Methodist Church, Haywards Heath, April 18

Thursday, 23rd April 2015, 12:06 pm
Musical director Andrew Sutton with Mid Sussex Choir. Picture by David J Waterhouse
Musical director Andrew Sutton with Mid Sussex Choir. Picture by David J Waterhouse

On Saturday, April 18, the Methodist Church became Haywards Heath Opera House for an evening, when the Mid Sussex Choir presented their Night at the Opera Concert.

The audience were treated to a wide selection of tunes, many of which were familiar.

The guest soloists Ann Berkovitch, Maggie Kelly, Rebecca Milford and Steve Hawksley, who are all pupils of Janet Gration, displayed considerable skill.

In addition, solos were professionally sung by Katharine Collett, Annette Robinson, Valerie Stevenson, Philip Ladd, Alan Brock and Rob Rogers, all of whom are members of the choir and students of Janet Gration.

David James joined the team for extracts from The Pirates of Penzance, which were especially well received by an enthusiastic audience.

There were twenty-one items in the programme, all of which were sung with skill and sensitivity, so selecting just a few for special mention is difficult.

Among the many highlights of the evening were: a duet from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which was beautifully performed by Ann and Steve; the Flower Duet from Delibes’ Lakmé, sung by Rebecca and Ann; Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen sung by Maggie; Katharine’s Casta Diva and Annette’s Barcarolle duet with Maggie; and the choir’s renditions of the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves and Mascagni’s Easter Hymn.

The choir, directed by Andrew Sutton, sang many popular opera choruses that involved singers becoming slaves, villagers, gypsies, voyagers and pirates – without a single costume change, so the collective imagination of the audience was well tested.

Phillip Sear accompanied all the performances with the incredible skill and effectiveness he displays every week as the choir’s accompanist.

At the end of the evening, the choir’s Chairman thanked all the performers and paid a special tribute to Rob and Gill Rogers who have decided that the time has come for them to leave the choir after many years of dedicated service. They will be sorely missed.

The choir’s selected charity for this season is the Shoreham Branch of the RNLI, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

Members of the audience were, yet again, generous in their contributions to the retiring collection.

The choir are most grateful for their support.

The choir’s next performance will be at St Peter’s Church in Chailey at 7.30pm on Saturday, May 9, when they will assist the Friends of St Peter’s in their fund-raising activities.