Husband and wife sing their classical favourites in Lindfield

Elin Manahan Thomas. Picture by A. P. Wilding
Elin Manahan Thomas. Picture by A. P. Wilding
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Husband and wife singers Robert Davies and Elin Manahan Thomas combine for a hometown concert of classical favourites at All Saints Church, Lindfield, on Saturday, October 29 (7.30pm), presented by Tiger Arts.

Operatic baritone Robert and acclaimed soprano and Radio 3 presenter Elin will be offering their own personal selection in a rare appearance together.

“We don’t do it enough,” says Elin. “That’s partly why we are doing it now. We started out singing together. We used to be in opera choruses and the Monteverdi Choir. We started out 15 to 16 years ago. We met through music. Bob was in an opera with my best friend and house mate, and I went to see the opera. It was just after 9/11, the week after – a really weird time for everyone.

“Now Bob does more operatic work. He does stuff at Glyndebourne and he was covering at the Opera House. I have tended to do more concerts and CDs and radio presenting.

“But when we do stuff together, we just do the stuff that we like. We can do the songs and the arias that we love. Bob does the Torreador, and all the women swoon! I allow that! But I laugh a little! He will also do ‘Oh What A Beautiful Morning’. I will sing a bit of Mozart and also something from My Fair Lady. It is a lovely mix.

“But we will never have done this with such a local audience. I have got friends coming along who know me only as a playground mum, that won’t have seen me in my full-on glam dress prancing around. This is going to be the most self-conscious we have ever been! But we will chat a lot. We like to give a bit of background to the music. People can think that classical music is elitist or a bit snobby, and I think it can just be sometimes that people don’t know what they are listening to. With a pop song, it is obvious. The words are there. But with something classical it can definitely help if you provide the context and a bit of background.”

There certainly won’t be any of the stuffiness that some people might fear – a hangover from the Victorians, Elin says: “Even in the time of Handel, it was all very interactive. It wasn’t all stand on ceremony, and I know there are people that quite like that, that don’t want you crossing the line. But I think that stage and audience divide can get in the way. We want to persuade people that they are actually part of what is happening.

“For us the audience is half of our concert. We are one half on stage, and the audience are the other half, and you can really see when people are enjoying something or when they are switched off.”

Elin sang in the recent memorial concert for the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster: “And I was thinking how on earth is that going to register with the audience. It was beautiful music, but they were using footage of the aftermath and the funerals, and you could really see the faces of the audience at the Millennium Centre. They went on a journey with the whole thing.”

Tickets are available from the church office on 01444 482405 or www.operaarias.eventbrite.co.uk.

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