An aspiring young Linslade singer has made her debut in a full-scale production of Carmen at the world-renowned Royal Opera House, in Covent Garden.
Bethany Lewin, just 12, was plucked from a Bedfordshire choir to win a place in the elite ROH youth company.
Less than 30 young students a year win coveted places in the group and they go on to have free tuition from arguably the world’s greatest opera company.
Over Christmas Beth, a student at Aylesbury High School, has been juggling regular schoolwork with evening performances of Bizet’s famous piece, lasting more than three hours, before commuting home and facing another day in school.
Her proud mum, music teacher Ruth, said Beth had relished her debut and now wants to pursue a career as an opera singer.
Beth started singing with the South Bedfordshire Youth Voices choir when Susan Cox, who directs it and is head of the Beds Inspiring Music programme for Central Beds Council, recognised her potential.
“You can only get an audition place by being sponsored and Susan put her up for it,” said Ruth .
“It’s an incredible opportunity for her as only 30 children are taken each year.
“The idea is to spot potential and to nurture that with superb vocal training from their tutors.
“This is her first professional production on the ROH main stage and she’s been having to juggle school work with performances.
“Her school have been very supportive.
“Beth is having to sing in French and it’s absolutely amazing. We’re incredibly proud of her.”
Councillor Mark Versallion, spokesman for children’s services, said: “It is amazing that Bethany has had the chance to sing at the Royal Opera House, I know that all our Inspiring Music staff are really proud of her achievements.
“It will be an experience she will never forget. Inspiring Music is all about getting children and young people participating in and enjoying music.
“I’d encourage everyone to go to the Inspiring Music website www.inspiringmusic.co.uk and have a look at what’s on offer.”