Long journey to Sheffield for tenor with fear of flying

Welcome return: Antonello Arca sings a duet with Charly Oakley at last year's Music in the Gardens.
Welcome return: Antonello Arca sings a duet with Charly Oakley at last year's Music in the Gardens.

AN OPERA singer with a fear of flying is still determined to attend Sheffield’s Music in the Gardens festival by travelling hundreds of miles to the event by bus.

Italian tenor Antonello Arca is set to perform before audiences at the Botanical Gardens for the third time this year.

Antonello, who hails from Sardinia, has been a regular fixture at the climactic Classic Concert since 2010, after Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra’s treasurer David Oakley spotted him while holidaying on the island.

Despite being forced to make the long journey to England by bus due to his fear of flying, he has returned every year and is looking forward to leading a Last Night of the Proms-style singalong at the finale on July 7.

Organisers have pulled out all the stops to give the city an occasion to rival the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday July 7, including a spectacular musical firework display.

Antonello will sing popular Italian songs before leading the orchestra in renditions of Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I’m always happy to come back. Sheffield has enchanted me with its food, countryside and wonderful gardens where the concert takes place.

“Last year the trip lasted 28 hours to get to Sheffield.

“I’m pretty used to this trip now since I travel all around Europe only by bus or train, but Sheffield is the farthest city I reached by bus. It doesn’t bother me. I’m ready to face any discomfort to come to Sheffield.”

Mr Oakley said: “Everyone wanted him back again this year.”

Music in the Gardens runs from July 4 and is presented by the Rotary Clubs of South Yorkshire.

The programme also includes a big band night, an appearance from the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain and a headline gig from 1970s pop group 10cc.

Festival-goers can also enjoy food and beverage stalls and rent gazebos to watch the proceedings in style.

Tickets for all Music in the Gardens events are available from the Design Studio in Ecclesall Road, Little Nature Shop in Sheffield Botanical Gardens, the Motorpoint Arena box office or by calling 0114 2 56 55 67.