Karen England, opera singer

OPERABABES_110112_357-2The Belper Arts Festival has scored something of a coup by persuading international singing star and Opera Babe Karen England to perform in the town.

Not that she needed much persuading, it turns out, as the mezzo soprano just can’t wait for May 23 to come around.

That may, in part, be because she will be able to visit her parents, who live at Duffield, but it is also because she loves performing and has a great time doing so with the A Choir’d Taste choir from Melbourne. She has known the director Paul Marshall since she was a child when he sat through her piano exams.

“I must have known him since I was eleven and he is a friend of the family so when he first asked me if I would sing with his choir I just said ‘why not let’s go for it’.

“And it was just lovely. The choir was brilliant and I enjoyed myself so much I was really glad he had asked me.

“So when I was asked if I would consider singing with them again at St Peter’s Church in Belper my answer was obviously going to be yes,” she explained.

Karen was born in Derby and then studied at Ecclesbourne School when her parents moved to Duffield,

She and her friend Rebecca Knight shot to stardom almost overnight in 2001 after being discovered busking in Covent Garden by a talent scout.

They were invited to perform on the pitch at the FA Cup Final where legendary sports TV commentator Des Lynam dubbed them the Opera Babes before an audience of millions. The name stuck and they became media darlings.

Since then the duo have sung for the Queen at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, the launch of the Commonwealth Games and the Prom at the Palace for the Jubilee celebrations.

Documentaries have been made about them and they have even performed with Placido Domingo as his guests in Los Angeles.

Their debut album went straight to the top of the classical charts, and since then a second and third album have also met with critical acclaim.

The women have also started families during that time and Karen, who now lives in Hertfordshire has two young daughters.

“We are still performing and touring and currently working on our fourth album but we also have to find time for the children,” said Karen.

They love to perform charity events and were recently in Derby for a Babes and Brass concert alongside The Staffordshire Band in aid of the Derby Salvation Army and Cystic Fibrosis.

“It went so well that we are hoping to do a ten date tour in the Midlands including an open air performance at a stately home,” said Karen excitedly.

The tour is still in the early stages of planning so it’s a case of watch this space to find out when and where.

For the Belper Arts Festival Karen and A Choir’d Taste will be performing Last Night at The Opera from 7.30pm.

Love, honeymoon, tragedy and romance will pan out with the help of Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, Bizet’s Habanera, Verdi’s Anvil Chorus and his Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves and many more popular choruses and show-stopping solo items.

For ticket details for this event and others in the festival go to http://www.belperartsfestival.org