Miner's son invited to sing 'Otello' by Placido Domingo

Walter Storey was determined that his son, Ian, would not follow the path of previous generations of his family by working in the coal mines of Durham. But singing
Otello in Los Angeles at the invitation of Placido Domingo is unlikely to have formed part of either man's wildest dreams.

Nonetheless, a glittering future in opera looks to be Ian Storey's for the taking, after a triumphant rise through the ranks of professional tenors following a tough childhood growing up in the Co Durham mining village of Chilton and previous careers as a cabinet maker and teacher in New Zealand.

The 49-year-old singer's remarkable career ascent, reached its apogee last month when he became the first British performer in decades to open the new season at La Scala in Milan home to the world's most demanding opera audience.

Although reviews of the Briton's performance as Tristan, in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in front of six prime ministers and presidents, were appreciative rather than ecstatic, such a lead role in the glitziest night of the opera calendar marked an extraordinary turnaround for the son of a coal board clerk and the grandson of a miner.

Dubbed the Billy Elliot of opera, Storey now has engagements booked at opera houses around the world until 2013, including a request from Domingo, the world's foremost tenor, to make his debut in America next month by performing Otello in Los Angeles, followed by a reprise of his role as the Flying Dutchman in Washington. This has all happened with minimal attention in Britain, where Storey's profile is only just beginning to rise despite his spending more than a decade honing his skills for Opera East, Opera North and Scottish Opera.

The father-of-one, who lives in Herefordshire, is the first to admit his story is remarkable. He said: "I was heavily involved in sport, I had an accident and joined a choir just to fill in some time. After a few months the conductor said, 'have you thought of becoming an opera singer?', so here I am."

Among his fans is Daniel Barenboim, the revered conductor, who was impressed by Storey's tenacity in practising for eight hours a day as well as putting in many hours in the gym for the physically demanding role of Turandot.

Barenboim, who led the orchestra in the La Scala production, said: "He is a real, real discovery. I think his life will change."

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head