A North-East dentist has given a celebrated opera singer reason to smile



HAND in hand with the country’s coolest opera singer Alfie Boe, Annette Wardell belts out Land of Hope and Glory – little wonder her smile stretches across her face.

An appreciative audience responds to Alfie’s words of encouragement as the Yorkshire soprano joins him in another reprise of the prom favourite. Alfie smiles, Annette beams thanks to the skills of a North-East dentist.

When the Scarborough-born singer performs for audiences around the world, including presidents and royalty, invariably the focus falls on her mouth and the pitch-perfect sounds that emerge.

But when she watched a playback of a televised concert performance from St Martin in the Field, London, it hit a sour note as the camera focussed in on a less than perfect smile.

“I always make sure I look my best,” says the ‘Dinky Diva’, who is also known as the Kylie of Opera. “But during the high notes it looked awful as you could see my fillings and there were a couple of crowns that could have looked better.

“I do a lot of corporate work as well as TV and was conscious that my smile should look better.”

Annette turned for help to North-East dentist Simon Andrews, who runs The Smile Spa in Stockton.

His challenge was to produce the perfect natural smile without impacting on Annette’s ability to sing, enunciate and project.

“Annette wasn’t happy with her existing crowns as they were making her self-conscious about her performance,” he recalls. “But everyone functions best with what nature provides them so working on Annette’s smile was about tweaking and enhancing.

“We conducted a lot of preliminary work and detailed planning. We came up with a trial smile as a provisional stage and worked with her singing coach to ensure any issues were picked up. In the end the intermediate smile required little adjustment and because we were meticulous in the shape of the veneers the end result was very much as we had predicted. Everyone was delighted.”

Annette agrees. “I am a naturally smiley person and Simon has done an amazing job. I have had a lot of great comments about my new smile, even from people who were right at the back of the auditorium. You can wear the best frock in the world but people focus on your face. Everyone watches your mouth when you sing and this can affect your performance. So the makeover has been worth a million pounds.

“I completely trusted Simon and they are now like family helping me maintain my smile with better hygiene. Sounds odd but I really enjoy going to the dentist. When I am back in the region my dad takes me over there and they really look after him too while he is waiting for me. If there is anything I am not happy with I can give them a call, even if I am on a ship somewhere.”

Performing with Alfie Boe in Northampton Annette couldn’t have been happier. “I was in a Union Flag dress with my big smile, all my family there and Alfie was just so generous. It was the highlight of the year so far.”

The performance was the latest in a successful career which saw her start singing as a child after her piano teacher spotted her potential.

Since then she has studied at a specialist music school in Huddersfield, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College, Manchester.

Her talents quickly saw Annette being offered work with Opera North, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera Company, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the British Youth Opera. She performed in Don Giovanni at the Barbican and for the Royal family, including Prince Charles.

Another high point was performing before a global TV audience of 280 million singing before the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea.

“I sat in the dugout behind Arsene Wenger and Arsenal won, which was awesome as my boyfriend supports them,” she recalls.

This year she has also toured with the National Symphony Orchestra and Annette is now preparing her voice and smile to perform with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a residency in Lowestoft.

“I have an amazing time all over the world but I never forget my Northern roots,” she says. “I only have white roses in my garden, I always have Yorkshire tea with me no matter where I am and love Yorkshire blue cheese and Black Sheep beer. No wonder I always have a Northern smile on my face.”