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Coronavirus: Opera singing doctor wows colleagues during break from frontline at Newham Hospital’s A&E department

PUBLISHED: 17:01 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:54 08 April 2020

Dr Alex Aldren breaks into song during a shift at Newham Hospital. Picture: @mikaela157

Dr Alex Aldren breaks into song during a shift at Newham Hospital. Picture: @mikaela157

Archant

This is the moment an opera singing doctor breaks into song to entertain colleagues on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Alex Aldren has been performing for colleagues at Newham Hospital during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Maddie CutterDr Alex Aldren has been performing for colleagues at Newham Hospital during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Maddie Cutter

Dr Alex Aldren wowed A&E staff with his rendition of Neapolitan song Core ‘ngrato, or Ungrateful Heart, at Newham Hospital in Glen Road, Plaistow.

Alex said: “It’s a song I really like to sing. [Singing] is quite good for morale and a bit of relief.

“I love to do it and at the moment it’s the only chance I get to do something I’m always happy to do. It is a fantastic thing to perform in front of friends and colleagues,” Alex said.

A trained tenor, Alex has performed at the Royal Opera House, Garsington Opera and most recently as Alfredo in La traviata in Sicily.

But three weeks ago the 30 year old increased his part-time shifts at Barts NHS Health Trust hospitals to help manage the influx of patients.

And Alex had time to spare after the national lockdown forced theatre doors shut and saw concerts cancelled.

“It’s really difficult time in the opera world. For those of us lucky enough to have work lined up, it’s all been cancelled, at least for the next six months. It’s really sad,” Alex said.

Alex studied medicine at Birmingham University for six years then spent two at Newham Hospital and The Royal London before training at the Royal Academy of Music.

A keen performer, Alex would sing to patients and recalled performing for a fellow tenor who had advanced dementia at Newham.

“He responded amazingly. He started singing. We got chatting and it emerged he had done recordings with Joan Sutherland,” Alex said.

It was while at medical school that Alex – whose mother was a professional violinist – discovered opera, particularly after hearing Luciano Pavarotti sing Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème.

At his first singing lesson, his teacher told him to give up medicine and take up singing.

“[Performing] is very different to medicine, but it has parallels. People go to the opera seeking honest protrayals of storytelling and characters.

“That’s the same in medicine. Patients appreciate doctors that are honest and connect with them,” he said.

And appreciation for the NHS is making up for the applause which would have echoed around concert halls.

“The support from the public has been fantastic. It’s an amazing feeling working for the NHS,” Alex said.


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