Haslemere Musical Society’s concert on Saturday, March 2 offers a rare chance to hear a live performance outside London of a celebrated song cycle for soprano solo and orchestra, Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer, featuring the welcome return of internationally-acclaimed opera star Janice Watson.

Ernest Chausson was both versatile and well connected – his father was a builder who made his fortune assisting Baron Hausmann with the redevelopment of central Paris in the 1850s. Killed in a cycling accident at 44, Chausson accomplished much in his short life – musician, barrister, novelist and accomplished sketcher.

He had friends at the vanguard of the impressionist movement including Debussy, Faure, Monet, Renoir, Degas and the poet Maurice Bouchor, whose verse inspired this Poème, with powerful themes of love, death and the sea.

The orchestra of HMS has relished the challenges of this ravishing, 30-minute work, under the baton of HMS music director Dr James Ross who brings so much to rehearsals through his special interest of French music.

Miss Watson, a past Grammy winner, has sung leading roles at many leading opera houses including Covent Garden, the Met in New York, La Scala and Sydney. She settled in the Haslemere area a few years ago and this is the third time HMS has been honoured to work with her – last year she supported the society’s centenary concerts, singing Carmen

The HMS choir, fresh from hosting its popular ‘Come and Sing’, then takes the centre stage in a selection of rousing, grand operatic favourites, including several by Verdi. 

Contemporaries praised Verdi for music that “stirs the audience and forces them to applaud and shout with enthusiasm.” There is plenty of opportunity to feel those emotions in the Grand March from Aida, the March of the Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco and the Rataplan chorus from The Force of Destiny. The prelude to Act II of Wagner’s Lohengrin and much loved extracts from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana complete the programme.

The concert starts 7.30pm at Haslemere Hall. Tickets can be bought from the hall’s box office, by calling 01428 642161.