From orthodontic technician to opera star

By day he’s a highly skilled orthodontic technician in the oral health laboratory at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, but when the working day is over 33-year-old Huw Jones, from Easton, turns into a budding opera singer.

You can see him in action in the sponsor’s advertising breaks during the series Popstar to Opera Star, which starts this Friday on ITV1.

Huw’s passion for opera began three years ago when he went to see a production by the Glyndebourne Opera: “I was always a die-hard rock fan before I got hooked on opera,” he says.

After joining the North Norfolk Chamber Opera group he quickly began to take on leading parts, culminating in the title role of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 2008: “There’s an awful lot to learn – the score is 276 pages long and I had to learn it all by heart. I was singing while I worked, in the car, at home….everywhere!”

The chance to appear on TV came when a colleague showed him ad in the local paper calling for budding opera stars to take part in a short advertising film. He was invited to an audition in Norwich by Anglian Home Improvements, the programme’s national sponsors, and his rich bass-baritone voice was an immediate hit.

It was not always so. Brought up in Aberdyfi, North Wales, he studied music to Grade 7 but was deterred from singing when his music teacher told him he had “a voice like a drain.” Years later a flatmate overheard him singing along to the guitar and suggested he join a local amateur dramatic group: “I was amazed when I started to get compliments for my voice.”

Huw shares his passion for opera with his wife Clair, a physiotherapist at NNUH and a classically trained ballet dancer who is currently assistant director for the North Norfolk Chamber Opera's forthcoming production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

So will he be giving up the day job any time soon? “I enjoy my job but I think everyone should have a dream,” he says. “Mine is to perform on that stage at Covent Garden just once in my life!”

Wednesday 13th of January 2010 04:00:56 PM