<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cheshire Life today click here

Meet Belle Voci - Chester’s operatic duo

PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 October 2017

Sophie Rohan (left) and Emily Burnette of Belle Voci

Sophie Rohan (left) and Emily Burnette of Belle Voci

not Archant

Belle Voci is their name...Italian for beautiful voices. But one half of the Chester operatic duo once feared her beautiful voice may have deserted her forever, writes Howard Bradbury

Ladies in red, Emily Burnette (left)  and Sophie Rohan of Belle Voci Ladies in red, Emily Burnette (left) and Sophie Rohan of Belle Voci

Belle Voci are truly on song. Sophie Rohan and Emily Burnette have singing engagements booked in for years into the future. They are a much-loved feature of opera dinners in Cheshire restaurants and farther afield. They’ve performed at swanky establishments such as the Royal Automobile Club in London and this month launch their first CD.

Belle Voci’s formula of popular opera songs and youthful glamour has proved such a hit as wedding entertainment that the pair have now set up an agency, taking on six other girls to meet demand, with plans to add boys to their books next year.

It’s a remarkable success for Sophie and Emily’s two-year partnership. Even more remarkable that just before they forged that partnership, Emily feared her singing voice had gone forever.

The pair, both 25, grew up vaguely aware of each other on the Chester singing scene. Sophie attended The Queen’s School, Chester, and started singing lessons aged 11.

Belle Voci at Bolesworth Belle Voci at Bolesworth

‘The first time I realised I wanted to pursue it as a career was when the Queen’s did a production of My Fair Lady. I was 15 and playing Eliza,’ said Sophie.

‘I wasn’t sure exactly which path to take; it was a toss-up between going down the musical theatre route or going straight to a conservatoire and doing some opera, which I didn’t feel I was ready for, so I went to London and did a course at the London School of Musical Theatre.’

Emily came to singing aged eight as a chorister at Chester Cathedral.

‘A scout came to my school, Saighton Primary, and went round the classroom asking us to sing our names. I sang my name and got into the choir,’ says Emily. ‘I loved it. I was there for ten years in total, and head chorister for the last four. It was five days a week - very intense.’

Belle Voci's album cover Belle Voci's album cover

After attending Abbey Gate College, Chester, Emily went to Durham University to study music, but spent much of those three years wrestling to regain her singing voice.

‘Nobody could tell me why or how, but I would sing for an hour and then the next day I would wake up completely husky and unable to sing any more. I spent all my choir savings trying to find somebody who could fix me. I saw eight different specialists who all had their own ideas, but none of them actually fixed me in the end.’

Resigned to never singing professionally, Emily got a job as a paralegal at Dyne Solicitors in Tattenhall and prepared to study for a law degree in Chester.

But then her voice returned, for reasons she still does not fully understand.

‘I had to start again, literally lying on the floor and learning how to breathe, then sitting up, doing some scales, then lying down and breathing again. It was a slow process,’ she says. ‘I’m glad it happened, in a way. It’s made me stronger; I know my limits.’

When they are not on the road, home for Sophie is Upton, Chester, while Emily lives at her mother’s sheep farm at Shocklach.

‘It’s pretty idyllic - a little patch of paradise about four fields away from Wales in a sleepy little village which doesn’t even have a local shop,’ says Emily. ‘Growing up it was a nightmare, but now it’s lovely.’

Sophie and Emily met up when both were working at the Yew Tree Inn in Bunbury.

Belle Voci performing at La Popote restaurant, Marton. Belle Voci performing at La Popote restaurant, Marton.

‘We said, why don’t we do some gigs together, maybe a couple of weddings for a bit of cash while we’re doing other things,’ says Sophie. ‘We contacted a local restaurant, Piste in Tarporley, and asked them how they felt about putting on an opera dinner. We’d sing a couple of songs in between each course and then do a finale. It was a success.’

Emily says: ‘We like to sing opera classics - the cheesy stuff, and then pepper it with songs nobody has heard of. Particularly in the opera dinner setting, we might do Time To Say Goodbye, that everybody’s heard of, then put in a Mozart aria that maybe nobody’s heard of, but because they are still within their comfort zone and because we’ll sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow after it, they are open-minded to it.’

They have recently recorded eight of their most popular songs for a CD, launched at Oddfellows Hotel, Chester, on September 8th.

For the next year, Emily will be fitting her Belle Voci duties in between postgraduate music studies in London. After which, they have wedding bookings stretching up to three years into the future. Getting hitched is, it seems, an ever bigger production these days, so an opera duo is de rigueur.

‘We went to one wedding and the bride had rainbow flowers and her bridesmaids were each a different colour of the rainbow,’ says Emily. ‘There were coloured ribbons everywhere. It was like a My Little Pony party. Often there are three best men standing at the altar, and the hats get bigger all the time!’

www.belle-voci.com

More from Out & About

Friday, November 17, 2017

If you’re looking for a unique Christmas present this year, Mersey Ferries has the answer.

Read more
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lymm may be a small village but the people there have plenty going on, as Rebekka O’Grady discovers

Read more
Lymm
Monday, November 13, 2017

A fantastic end to 2017 is in store at the annual equestrian event in the centre of Liverpool.

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

Wilmslow is onto a winner, writes Mairead Mahon

Read more
Wilmslow
Sunday, November 12, 2017

The inaugural golf event hosted by the King’s School in Chester

Read more
Friday, November 10, 2017

A collection of walks in and around the Cheshire section of the Peak District National Park.

Read more
Macclesfield Bollington Poynton
Thursday, November 9, 2017

It’s one of the most expensive places to live outside London which makes it out of reach of ordinary mortals - or does it? There are ways you can experience the Prestbury lifestyle without the millionaire bank balance... and here’s how

Read more
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Ascend Old Pale Hill in Delamere and enjoy some great views and some unexpectedly stirring prose, writes Howard Bradbury.

Read more
Delamere
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Katie Piercy tells us about some of the winter berries which keep our birds and mammals fed

Read more
Monday, November 6, 2017

Janet Reeder heads to one of Cheshire’s most glamorous villages to find some sparkle

Read more
Alderley Edge
Monday, October 23, 2017

With Halloween looming, CH1ChesterBID is helping to shine a light on some of the darker stories lurking within Chester’s most haunted buildings.

Read more
Chester Autumn
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Cheshire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Cheshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search