The Christmas Story

By Heinrich Schütz

6th, 7th, 9th, 10th & 11th December 2002
The National Centre for Early Music, York

The Christmas Story is usually performed by Choral Societies as an early oratorio, but it is actually well-suited to staged performance. It has a chorus who introduce and comment on the story, a narrator – the Evangelist, two solo characters: the Angel and Herod, three shepherds (altos), three kings (two tenors, one baritone) and four high priests and scribes (basses). York Opera had a static chorus to one side of the acting area, the Evangelist in a pulpit, actors to play the silent roles of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and soloists acting all the other roles as they occur.

The Evangelist introduces the well-known story of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The first scene presents the Angel announcing the birth to the Shepherds, who decide to go to Bethlehem and visit the Baby. When they return to their fields we see the three Kings asking at Herod’s court where the King will be born. They are answered by the four priests and scribes who tell them of the prophecies. Herod tells them to return when they have found the Baby, but the Angel appears to them to tell them Herod’s true purpose. The Angel then appears to Joseph, telling him to escape to Egypt, where the Holy Family remains until the Angel informs them it is safe to return. Mary and Joseph return to Nazareth with their young son.



Ed Sturmheit/Richard Burton

The Angel

Cathy Atkin

Three Shepherds

Amanda Shackleton, Maggie Soper, Irene Hollett

Four Angels

Linda Baxter, Rosy Jamieson, Kat Batey, Patricia Campbell/Jane Woolgar

The Wise Men

Andrew Sapcote, Nick Skiera, Paul Richardson

High Priests and Scribes

Duncan Campbell, Richard Shouksmith, Peter Butler, Ian Thomson-Smith


Clive Goodhead


Naomi Small


Charles Hunt


William Atkin


Musical Director – Steve Griffiths

Director – John Soper


Costume Design – Maggie Soper


The First Nowell

By Ralph Vaughan Williams

6th, 7th, 9th, 10th & 11th December 2002
The National Centre for Early Music, York

The First Nowell is also a re-telling of the Christmas Story, this time presented through medieval mystery plays, interspersed with traditional English carols. There is a chorus, a soprano soloist and a baritone soloist. The three shepherds are the only actual characters who sing (and dance!). The rest of the cast are actors who are not required to sing.


Baritone Soloist

Ian Thomson-Smith

Soprano Soloists

Pauline Chadwick
Rosy Jamieson

The Creator

Clive Goodhead

Ferry Hunt


Naomi Small


Maggie Soper


Charles Hunt

First Shepherd

Clive Marshall

Second Shepherd

David Binns

Third Shepherd

David Neild


Lee Maloney


Frankie Spiers


Paul Richardson


Musical Director – Alasdair Jamieson

Director – Pauline Chadwick


Costume Design – Maggie Soper


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