by Annette Kellow 

On a wet and rainy Saturday afternoon I couldn't think of a more perfect place to visit than the grande and prestigious Royal Albert Hall. I had been invited to the Opera Afternoon Tea, a truly unique event, which consists of a luxurious tea combined with tiers of sandwiches, sweet treats and homemade scones in the elegant surroundings of the Hall's Verdi restaurant, whilst experiencing a live performance from one of the UK's most promising operatic talents.

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I have always had a soft spot for the Royal Albert Hall as it was one of the first places I visited in London as a child and I can never get over the sheer scale and detail of the Grade I listed building, so it was an absolute joy to be back. I had brought my friend who I hadn't seen for four whole months and lets just say, we had lots to catch up on! So when we were greeted by a glass of fizzing champagne on arrival it was a welcoming surprise (and what better way to start a good conversation?)

Our lovely waitress explained the menu of teas sourced worldwide, and after deciphering which ones had the right hints for our preferable flavour, the tier arrived!
It was filled with the most scrumptious classic english sandwiches; egg cress, cucumber, salmon and cream cheese with an abundance of mouth-watering cakes, macarons and scones.

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I was excited to see the singer who would be gracing the stage (as they have a different one per event) and had looked up online that it would be the British born Soprano Alexandra Stenson. She is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and English National Opera's prestigious Opera Works training program.
She has appeared at venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Hall and Royal Albert Hall, and has worked for companies including Opera North, British Youth Opera and Opera Holland Park. Roles performed include Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Fox in Cunning Little Vixen and she will also be returning to Opera Holland Park this summer to play the role of Claretta in Leoncavallos Zaza.

Alexandra looked utterly divine in her long flowing black dress, and beautiful raven hair whilst she sung so magically, we even stopped drinking our tea and nattering to stare in awe! The Royal Albert Hall is the perfect place for live opera, the acoustics and high ceilings all compliment music and song whilst everyone was besotted with Alexandra.

Afterwards a few people got to meet and chat with her, and she seemed to have quite a fan base whilst the afternoon closed with a fresh pot of tea and another glass of champagne (why not?)

It was the perfect way to wind down from the week with a quintessentially British afternoon tea and a captivating opera show within London's most iconic venue, it made you feel like you were transported into a world of relaxation- and besides where else could you find such an ideal place to hide from the pouring rain?