AS A former principal soprano for the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, Cynthia Morey is no stranger to the limelight.
But she was stunned when she got a call saying she should audition for a part in the new movie Quartet.
The comedy, directed by Dustin Hoffman, star of The Graduate, is showing in cinemas around the UK, and features Mrs Morey in a small role as retired opera singer Lottie Yates.
“Dustin kissed me on the cheek three times – he was such a wonderful director,” said Mrs Morey, who is in her 80s and lives in Cholsey with husband Anthony Jennings, a retired clarinetist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
The former professional opera singer was delighted to be cast in the BBC Films production alongside household names including Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon and Billy Connolly.
The character Mrs Morey plays in the film takes on the part of Yum Yum in The Mikado – a role Mrs Morey herself played on Broadway in 1955.
The comedy features Beecham House, a home for retired opera singers, and focuses on the residents uniting to give a concert to raise funds for their home.
Mrs Morey said: “In 2011 I got a call from Melodie Waddingham, one of the other ladies who plays one of the Gilbert and Sullivan singers, saying they were looking for a soprano. I phoned Ealing Studios and got invited along to the audition and got the part.
“I’ve got a few lines of dialogue with Michael Gambon and I sing in a couple of trios – I’m in a few scenes and my name is listed in the credits.
“It was Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut and he was such a lovely man – he really understands how actors work.
“For about three months at the end of 2011 a limo picked me up at 5.30am to take me to the shoot at Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire.
“I shared a trailer with Nuala Willis, one of the other singers, and really enjoyed my time on the set.”
Mrs Morey said she was delighted with the opportunity to extend her professional career.
Her last major engagement was at a Gilbert and Sullivan gala in Philadelphia in the United States in 2001.
In a singing career dating back to the 1950s, Mrs Morey started out with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, was a principal mezzo with Sadler’s Wells Opera and has sung with the English National Opera.
She has worked in Australia, New Zealand and other European cities and appeared in West End musicals.
Mrs Morey’s last performance in a West End show was in Anything Goes at the Prince Edward Theatre in London in 1990.
The singer has also written five books, including theatrical reminiscences, and one about her childhood during the Second World War.
She added: “There wasn’t a premiere but there was a screening for cast and crew and I have seen the film a few times – it was a lovely film to be in and Billy Connolly was delightful.”
People in the Wallingford area have the chance to see Quartet at the Corn Exchange from Sunday, February 17 to Thursday, February 21.
John Warburton, who runs the cinema at the Corn Exchange, said: “It’s great to see a local face in the cast.”
- For further information visit cornexhange.org.uk