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Victoria Gray

February 2010

She is inbetween movement classes.
“Thinking of different centrepoints for different emotions.”
“When you have to take on a character from an opera, say, you’re being snooty you think of your chest and sticking it out and being pompous.”
Nope, don’t get that.
The classes, whatever they’re for, are part of an eight year course at the Royal College of Music in London which Bilsthorpe opera trainee Victoria Gray is half-way through.
It’s the stage at which Katherine Jenkins quit to become a popera star.
Victoria, 22, wouldn’t mind the fame and riches but her focus is on finishing the course and becoming a professional opera singer.
But she needs to raise £10,000 per year to carry on with the post-graduate degree then opera school.
“The tuition you get here is the best but it’s so expensive,” she says.
The figure covers the tuition fees. She pays the rent with a part-time job as a singing waitress.
A what?
“It’s a restaurant in Lancaster Gate called Bel Canto. People will be eating their dinner, the piano will start up and one of us will sing opera while walking around the tables. It’s such a funny concept but it really works.
“And it’s great practice. You’re testing out new pieces and new arias all the time.”
The former Minster School pupil was a member of Cantamus, the all girl choir based in Mansfield, travelling to Germany, Italy and China, where, in 2007, they were crowned World Choir Olympic Champions.
“I was with the choir for ten years and it’s where I got my passion for it and the necessary discipline,” she says.
Victoria was also the first singer to win The Nottingham Young Musician Competition, in 2005.
Dad, a former boxer, is a court usher while mum works for the NHS. Her musical gift comes more from her grandparents.
“Both my parents are tone deaf,” she laughs.
“The voice comes from my grandma. She did music at university. My grandad was one of the first members of the Salvation Army band and he played trombone with the Edwinstowe Colliery Band.”
As a petite blonde Victoria knows she’s far from the traditional bulky opera singer.
“The first opera I saw, I thought it would be somebody fat with horns on their head, screaming.”
I’ve had those nightmares.
“But it was so much more than that. They were so physical and their acting conveyed every emotion you could possible imagine. And even though it was in Italian you’d be laughing with them, then crying.”
Aren’t most opera singers great hefers?
“No, not at all. These days you’re turned away if you’re overweight because you have to be so physically fit to sustain a role. I once had to leap on to a tenor’s back while singing.”
As part of a sponsorship deal with Mansfield’s Direct Recording Systems, Victoria will soon record a demo and video to help sell her to prospective sponsors.
So, following Katherine Jenkins isn’t out of the question?
“I really respect what she’s done in bringing opera to the masses but she’ll never have a career in an opera house. And that’s what I really want. To travel the world singing opera.”
You could do both.
“I’d love to eventually.”
So if Simon Cowell offered you an album deal singing Westlife opera style...?
“I would. It’d be a great way of earning the money to continue my studies.”
Should she make it as a professional singer Victoria will be following in the footsteps of another ex-Minster School pupil: Alvin Stardust
Ask your dad.
Maybe you should change your name to Victoria Starburst.
“I like that. I’m going to use that.”
You read it here first...

Victoria Gray, with Anthony Gregory, the Cantamus Ensemble and Michael Neaum, Queen Elizabeth School, Mansfield, Saturday February 20, 7.30 pm.
Tickets: £10, 01623 627764

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