AN internationally renowned opera singer is combining his love of music with his passion for food by opening a country pub restaurant with a difference. Diners at the Malt Shovel in Brearton, near Ripon, will occasionally be treated to the odd aria or showtune by world famous baritone D'Arcy Bleiker, his mezzo soprano wife Anna and their friends and colleagues from the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Glyndebourne.
D'Arcy, 34, has teamed up with his father, chef Jurg Bleiker, 62, who, with his wife Jane, 60, ran the acclaimed Old Deanery restaurant in Ripon for 21 years and, more recently, the award-winning Bleiker's Smokehouse in Nidderdale.
The restaurant is a real family affair as D'Arcy and Jurg will be doing the cooking, while their wives Anna and Jane will be front of house.
D'Arcy and Anna, who met at the Royal Northern College of Music, have sung solos at the Royal Albert Hall and the Proms and performed all over the world, including Russia, the United States and throughout Europe. They have moved to North Yorkshire from East Sussex with their two young children, Ellie, two, and Grace, nine months.
Looking forward to the new challenge, D'Arcy, a former head chorister at Ripon Cathedral, said: "I love cooking, I was brought up in the Old Deanery restaurant and my father is a fantastic cook.
"Running my own restaurant is something I have dreamed about for the past ten years and now, at last, it is happening."
But D'Arcy won't be turning his back on opera completely, and will still take on occasional roles. "Anna and I were finding it difficult to work internationally with two young children in tow. We wanted to do something we could enjoy which would also give us the chance to choose roles occasionally," he said.
And the pair will also be performing, of course, at the Malt Shovel. "We have just had a piano rigged up and we will be running a taxi service to bring people backwards and forwards from Leeds," he said.
"Friends from the opera world will be calling by and we will be encouraging them to sing and play; I will probably be called on myself from time to time.
"It won't be very highbrow, just on a very casual basis, although we may organise occasional operatic events and musical evenings too."
The restaurant opens on Friday, October 20.