When he's not doing impossible and adrenalin racing deeds for Getaway
, Jules loves to enjoy a good meal and listen to classical music. He went to London to a place where he could enjoy both at the one time.
Bel Canto French restaurant has put a new spin on a night at the opera. Its waiters are some of the world's top students and stars of the future. At Bel Canto, which means 'beautiful singing', they earn money by waiting tables and practice their singing at the same time. It truly is singing for your supper.
Australian Prudence Sanders is one of 60 opera singers and ten pianists working in Bel Canto. Students are from 15 countries and all attend the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the London College of Music.
Each night at least four singing waiters treat diners to an ever-changing repertoire of classics. They are passionate about developing their talents and mingling with diners gives them excellent experience for future professional performances. They are just as enthusiastic about taking care of diners as they are performing. As for the audience/diners, they are part of the experience. It's as if you are on stage.
A huge plus is that the concept has taken the cost of going to the likes of Albert Hall or the Royal Opera House down to a new level. You can enjoy Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, Bizet and Mozart arias while enjoying a two- or three-course meal.
Walls are adorned with posters and violins and 18th century costumes, but it is the waiters bursting into song that creates Bel Canto's ambience.
Owner Jean-Paul Maurel opened the original Bel Canto in Paris eleven years ago, and in 2009 opened his London operation. A lover of classical music and opera, he wants others to share the joy of music through his restaurants.
Jean-Paul's wife Antonia is the artistic manager and casts the singing waiters who would otherwise be earning their keep in a place where singing on the job would probably be frowned upon.
Jules met up with Australian actor/singer Michael Falzon who is starring in the UK version of We Will Rock You. He loved the theatrics and gave the experience the thumbs up.
Along with Jules and everyone else, Michael became part of the chorus and joined in with a resounding rendition of Verdi's La Traviata.
Lancaster Gate in London.
Bel Canto two-course meals are about $60 and three-course are about $72. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday between 7pm and 11pm.
Prices correct at August 5, 2010.
For further information
Bel Canto Restaurant
Corus Hotel Hyde Park
1 Lancaster Gate
London W2 3LG
Ph: 0011 44 207 262 1678
Fax: 0011 44 207 262 1493
Visas: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of under six months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.
Electricity: 220 volts with a three-point plug.
Time: The UK is on Greenwich Mean Time between October and March. Between March and October it is on British Summer Time.
Currency: The British Pound Sterling.
Telephone code: +44.