It was truly fascinating for the audience to get an idea of what an opera singer considers when getting to grips with a piece of sung music. Sir Thomas Allen gave a range of advice.  One moment he would be working on controlling gesture, and the next he would be showing a participant how to belt out a top note with true conviction, as in the case of Phil’s performance of Ralph Vaughan-Williams’ ‘The Call’ (which Phil will be performing with Durham University Choral Society on 5th December in Elvet Methodist Church).  He also worked on relaxing muscle tension, as well as more intangible subjects of characterisation.  Pick any night at Covent Garden, and the majority of audience members will be effortlessly enjoying the singing in front of them as they contently become subsumed by the sounds of the opera.  Conversely, this masterclass made listeners truly appreciate the analytical depth which an opera star masters in order to perform.

Thanks must go to Durham Opera Appreciation Society for putting on such a memorable event, and to Mary-Anne Grego for accompanying.  Our next event takes place on Monday 9th November at 7:30pm in the Hatfield Birley Room, where we’ll be discussing and performing music from ‘Andrea Chenier’ by Umberto Giordano.  Although this opera is somewhat of an enigma, it has some truly beautiful music.  I really hope you’ll join us at this event for another fantastic evening of appreciating opera.

Henry Crawshay-Williams, Durham Opera Appreciation Society President

Durham Opera Appreciation Society, one of Music Durham’s new societies this year, hosted a scintillating Talk and Masterclass with Sir Thomas Allen.  Sir Tom is well known to us in Durham as the Chancellor of the University, but he also happens to be a giant of the opera world.  He’s performed title roles in the world’s most prestigious operatic stages, including the likes of La Scala, The Metropolitan Opera House, Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House. The main body of the event consisted of masterclasses with five talented student singers: Sophie Horrocks, Ben Munden, Hannah McKay, Phil Normand and Poppy Metherell.

A truly unique and funny character, Sir Thomas Allen presented with wit and charm throughout the entire event. His incredible voice, knowledge and personality made the event something special to remember…

After the masterclasses Sir Thomas Allen spoke to the audience about some of his experiences in the industry, touching on subjects such as his initial journey into the genre and the continental perks of the job.  Following that, there was a Q&A where we found out even more about Sir Thomas Allen’s life.  A truly unique and funny character, Sir Thomas Allen presented with wit and charm throughout the entire event.  His incredible voice, knowledge and personality made the event something special to remember and I hope to see more from him in the future.