Demand high to see OperaBabes in Harleston

Matthew SparkesThey toured the world several times over, played with the finest orchestras and sold a million copies of their debut album.Matthew Sparkes

They toured the world several times over, played with the finest orchestras and sold a million copies of their debut album.

Now this operatic duo is set to play a sold-out concert in Norfolk as part of the Harleston and Waveney Festival.

And it will not be a long journey home after the show for one half of the OperaBabes.

Soprano Rebecca Knight grew up just outside Harleston, and lives on the Suffolk coast with her husband and young daughter.

'My parents lived in the same village for several years,' she said, explaining how the world-famous pair came to be booked at the festival.

'It's all come about because one of the organisers is a friend of the family, and has been for about 10 years.'

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On Tuesday, August 25, the classical act will play at St John's Church in Harleston - a venue that holds just 240.

Karen England, the act's mezzo soprano, said: 'The venue sold out really quickly, so what they're doing now is relaying the sound and video down the road.'

Festival organisers hastily arranged a live feed to be shown at the nearby King George's Hall, giving another 100 fans the chance of a seat.

Since exploding into the limelight in 2001, when they were discovered busking and offered the chance to sing at the FA Cup, they have played shows at the Theatre Royal and Playhouse in Norwich, as well as Blickling Hall.

Past live shows by the pair have varied massively, from classical tours to what they call 'Madonna meets Mozart'.

Such a varied career has naturally drawn a wide range of fans, young and old.

Mrs Knight said: 'It was in Norwich last time that a big crowd of Goths were sitting next to a bunch of grannies.

'Even when we do a straight classical concert there's a lot of chatter with the audience, and it's very informal.'

The pair is now working with a much smaller record label than when they were first scooped up by Sony - a change that allows them more time with their families. Both singers have recently given birth to their first babies, both girls.

'When you go home, it's really strange going into mummy mode after being in OperaBabe mode,' said Mrs Knight, whose daughter Saffron Lotus, was born in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

'I think the children have made a big difference in our lives.

'We used to think nothing about a month in Japan, but that's really not an option now.'

Despite being kept busy with family commitments, the third OperaBabes album is expected next year, although the pair are reluctant to divulge any secrets.

'We still haven't really decided on the tracks we want to use,' said Mrs Knight.

The concert begins at 7.30pm, and tickets for the live broadcast at King George's Hall are still available for �5 by calling Harleston Information Centre on 01379 851917.