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Young Singers Hit The High Notes

Matilda Hazell and Ben Hayes
Two young singers from Yorkshire are preparing to make their operatic debuts as they get ready to perform a solo in Opera North’s upcoming production of Tosca.


Matilda Hazell, 13, who attends Prince Henry’s School in Otley, and Ben Hayes, 14, from Roundhay School in Leeds, have been selected to share the Shepherd Boy solo between them at Leeds Grand Theatre and on tour. ‘Io de' sospiri’ provides a moment of calm at the opening of Act III, before the opera’s tragic denouement when the diva Floria Tosca realises that she has been deceived by the evil Baron Scarpia and her lover is dead. Matilda and Ben will be singing the solo in Italian.

Ben commented: “I really love the opera Tosca. It was the first opera I ever saw. After I watched it, I thought it would be amazing to sing the shepherd and two years later I am! But my favourite part of the show is at the end (I won’t say what happens as I don’t want to give away spoilers).”

The teenagers are members of Opera North Young Voices which is where they were invited to audition for the part. The youth ensemble gives children, aged between 12 and 15, the chance to meet on a weekly basis to perfect their vocal technique and musicianship with experienced choral leaders, while also developing skills in drama and stagecraft under the guidance of professional directors. These will prove especially useful for Matilda and Ben when they appear as the altar girl and boy, lighting votive candles while soprano Giselle Allen, playing Tosca, performs the aria ‘Vissi d’arte’.

Matilda said: “Although [the rehearsals] can be quite long, I never get bored. I said to Mum after one of the rehearsals that I didn’t want to go back to school – I just want to perform in opera productions all the time!”

Young Singers Hit The High Notes, 14th September 2018, 11:06 AM