Actor Robert Hardy is to star in a new setting of Blessed Henry Newman's Dream of Gerontius by author and composer Julien Chilcott -Monk. at the Oxford Oratory on Saturday 12 May at 7.30pm to raise funds for the Newman chapel and library.
Newman dreamed of founding an Oxford Oratory but it was the Jesuits who established St Aloysius Church, which did not pass into Oratorian hands until 1990. in 1993 the Oxford Oratory was established. A painting depicting the church's interior, donated by the Cardinal to the Jesuits when he preached there on Trinity Sunday 1890, hangs in the Oratorians' house. `
Restoration on the interior began in 2008. Building work recently began on a new accommodation block for the increasing number of Oratorians,and a new parish centre. The planned library will house Newman's works plus other important manuscripts and collections and be available for both public and academic use.
The veteran actor, a graduate of Magdalen College Oxford, is known to millions as Professor Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter Films. A close friend of Richard Burton, he featured in the recent Channel 4 documentary about Elizabeth Taylor's priceless jewels, revealing anecdotes about their relationship. Previously he has helped with fund raising for the Oratory restoration by appearing as Gerard Manley Hopkins, a former curate at the church, in 'Hildegard and Hopkins'. He also played Tom the Shepherd in 'The Play of Herod', written by Julien Chilcott-Monk.
Hardy plays Gerontius and the Soul, and Neil Nesbit, who appeared with him in an episode of All Creatures Great and Small, plays the Guardian Angel.
Vox Angelica, a small a cappella choir will perform the parts designated in the poem. The mezzo soprano soloist is Elizabeth Barlow as the Angel of the Stairway.
Last year Robert Hardy performed in Gerontius at Beaulieu Abbey and Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
Members of the Oratory expressed their gratitude that the renowned actor has given such enthusiastic support for their project in fulfilling Newman's dream of an Oxford parish offering a cultural and academic centre for everyone.
£10 tickets can be bought on the day at the Oratory or in advance from the Oxford Playhouse tel: 01865 305305