It was Opera Night at the Malt Shovel at Brearton near Knaresborough on Monday night. I was sceptical about the concept: a £65 four course dinner with arias. Would it spoil a good opera or ruin a good dinner? Actually none of the above.
A bit of background: The Malt Shovel belongs to the Bleiker family. Old hands will remember Jane and Jurg Bleiker at the Old Deanery in Ripon back in the 70s when decent restaurants were thin on the ground. Then they set up Bleiker’s smokehouse and now Jurg is back in the kitchen cooking at the Malt Shovel.
Jane shares front of house with their son D’Arcy and daughter in law Anna, opera singers who, when they are not on the international stage are pulling pints in this country pub near Knaresborough.
D’Arcy and Anna have performed all over the world, but when Anna found herself in the U.S. for four months and missing the children’s birthdays, the Bleiker’s reckoned there had to be another way.
The Malt Shovel is the way. Now they can be with their kids and still manage to fit in a bit of stage work – Anna is booked for Covent Garden in 2012.
And once a month they get together with some high class opera friends, who put on their glad rags and belt out some familiar arias from La Bohemme or the Marriage of Figaro.
I’m no opera buff, but there was something thrilling about hearing and seeing such powerful voices close-up. It was all done with great good humour, they and us enjoying themselves hugely and the dinner wasn’t bad either. What a brilliant way to fill a pub on a Monday night. Next opera night Monday 13th December