Pavarotti apparently believed that an opera singer needs what he called an “important body” – he meant a large one.
And funnily enough, that’s something that seems to be a necessity for Santa Claus too.
Luckily for Jeff Woods, he has the important body required both to sing opera and to take on the role of Santa each year.
Jeff, of Mountbatten Avenue, Pinchbeck, is a trained operatic tenor... who has become known in the last three or four years as The Singing Santa.
That role is a far cry from the early days of his career when he was singing professionally for Welsh National Opera and Glyndebourne Touring Opera, and performing all over the world.
He has sung for Princess Diana, appeared on the Terry Wogan show and taken on a challenging Wagner production, something requiring “a big voice and lots of stamina”. Jeff also taught music, in secondary and special schools, and lectured at several universities, but gave up the teaching to concentrate on the growing number of gigs he was being offered.
A cabaret act called Pavanotti, in which Jeff dresses up like Pavarotti for special Italian themed evenings and entertains people with Italian arias, was becoming popular. He was also being asked to sing and lecture on cruise ships.
However, it was when someone suggested in 1999 that he try acting as Father Christmas for stores that the turning point came.
He’s done it ever since, along with his cabaret work, and says: “It’s absolutely marvellous. The best thing of all is the magic you bring to the children. It’s the only time in our lives we get to see some real magic and that is something that’s a great privilege to be able to give.”
The Singing Santa was a natural progression and Jeff was able to share songs and stories he’s written with children at special events, such as at the Santa Roadshow at a large garden centre in Wales.
Last year, he wrote a Christmas song, The Tinsel Song, with the intention of releasing that on its own and that is now on general release.
At the suggestion of Christine Hanson at Bookmark in Spalding though, Jeff has added four of his own Christmas stories to The Singing Santa CD. The CD was launched in November at Bookmark where Jeff is planning one of his Pavanotti cabaret evenings for Valentine’s night, February 14.
He’s penned a few things over the years, such as country and western songs and a musical at university, which he is thinking of doing something with in future, as well as stories. In fact, if you happen to be at a garden centre over the festive season and a polar bear figure is reading a tale about the Christmas adventures of a little polar bear, chances are the story is Jeff’s and it is his voice you are listening to.