Babes are smooth opera-tors

PUBLISHED: 13:25 05 April 2007 | UPDATED: 15:03 12 May 2010

Opera Babes Rebecca Knight and Karen England

Opera Babes Rebecca Knight and Karen England

Two opera singers who have taken the classical music world by storm will be performing in Cambridge next week - the city where they first met eight years ago. Opera Babes Rebecca Knight and Karen England will wow audiences at the Cambridge Corn Exchange o

Two opera singers who have taken the classical music world by storm will be performing in Cambridge next week - the city where they first met eight years ago.

Opera Babes Rebecca Knight and Karen England will wow audiences at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Friday, April 13, accompanied by a string quartet and piano.

The talented duo were first discovered busking in London's Covent Garden in 2001.

Karen, 32, said: "We were on tour together in an opera company and were away all the time. We wanted to focus on our auditions so we came up with the idea of going to Covent Garden to busk to pay for singing lessons. It was a really enjoyable time. We never thought someone would have approached us after seeing us performing on the streets."

Their first major performance involved singing at the FA Cup final, in front of 500 million people across the world.

Karen, who is from Hitchin, said: "We were shell-shocked! We weren't massively into football so we didn't realise how big it was, and then it went crazy.

"From going on the pitch, we were inundated with offers, including five major record deals."

Since then their musical careers have gone from strength to strength.

Their first album Beyond Imagination went straight to number one in the UK classical charts and stayed there for 11 weeks and subsequently hit the top of the US music charts.

"We were thrilled that it was at the top spot for so long," Karen said. "We didn't really have any expectations at the time."

The Queen is one of the girls' fans. In recent years they have sung for her at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, at the launch of the Commonwealth Games at Buckingham Palace, and at the Prom at the Palace for the Queen's Jubilee celebrations.

Karen and Rebecca have always enjoyed performing from a young age.

It was not until Karen was in her teens that she got into opera.

She said: "I heard Mozart and thought it was challenging."

Rebecca, 35, however, is the daughter of opera singer Gillian Knight, but initially trained as a dancer.

The women met in Cambridge eight years ago while taking part in workshops for a production called Mozart's Magic Flute.

Karen said: "It's worked very well. The beauty of what we do is that we were friends before, so we haven't just been thrown together like some groups nowadays."

She enjoys listening to jazz music as well as bands such as Keane and artists such as KT Tunstall, and says she has not got any future plans or ambitions.

"Things never cease to surprise us," she said.

"We thought nothing could beat going straight to the top of the charts, but being called to perform in LA with Placido Domingo exceeded our expectations."

As a result of their performance in LA, they made history as the first UK classical act to headline a show in Las Vegas.

Karen said: "Every now and again opportunities fly to us, and we hope it continues."

Opera Babes tickets are available from the box office on 01223 357851. Prices range from £15.50-£19.50.

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