Musical star braced for operatic success

THE poster boy of Edinburgh Grand Opera has revealed he only took up singing after he was made to wear braces.

Benjamin Ellis, who stars in Mozart’s Don Giovanni next month, went to Edinburgh University with the intention of making the trumpet his career.

But the music and performance graduate switched to 
singing after the dental fixings hindered his instrument 

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Now the 23-year-old, from Dumbiedykes, has been labelled the pin-up for Edinburgh Grand’s developing artists programme, which encourages new singers to take up opera.

He said: “I’d been a chorister and in school choirs for as long as I can remember, but I’d never considered classical singing before.

“I started as a trumpet player when I came to university, but I got a brace and that ruined that.

“So I took up singing in the second year and I’ve never looked back from there. It’s a massive part of my life now and I can’t think of anything I’d rather spend my career doing.”

His bass and baritone voice became an instant hit when he attended an audition at Scotland’s oldest opera house.

Artistic director Christina Dunwoodie was so impressed that she gave him a principal role in last year’s production of Bizet’s Carmen.

Ben, who worked in Blackwell’s bookshop when he decided to take the plunge as a singer, will tackle the role of Masetto in the company’s production at the Queen’s Hall on February 10.

He is spending up to an hour a day practising his role, but said he was still battling with his nerves.

“It’s quite a major performance, so I am unbelievably nervous about it to be honest.

“I have never done anything of this size or magnitude in my life, so I’m excited to be doing it at the same time as being completely daunted.

“It’s a wonderful opera and it’s great how many hundreds of years from Mozart’s times that it’s still adaptable to a young audience today. It’s a classic, very funny, but full of dark characters.”

Soprano Jennifer Craig, another young singer on the brink of an exciting future, will be singing Zerlina in Don Giovanni.

Ben said he now hoped to make opera singing his career and has been accepted to study singing at Trinity College in London, starting in September.

“It’ll be a sad day when I leave here, but I’m excited about going to Trinity,” he said.

“Edinburgh Grand has given me the chance to perform in a major city centre theatre, with orchestra, alongside professional singers. I simply wouldn’t have got that opportunity with any other company.”