FRIDAY afternoons don’t get much better than stopping in Hendy to drop off a few magazines, walking into an old library building last used for an election count and finding that it has been transformed into a very bright and colourful tea rooms serving wonderful sandwiches and cake and with the proprietor being the very beautiful and talented opera soprano Adele O’Neill.
A Pontarddulais girl Adele is an experienced Coloratura Soprano who graduated from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama (2003-07) under the tutelage of Professor Laura Sarti, the celebrated Italian Mezzo Soprano.
Having seen and heard Adele on numerous occasions singing alongside the Cor Meibion Llanelli and Cor Meibion Pontarddulais I was slightly taken aback to see her behind the counter in her apron. It took a minute or two of conversation where I said ”I know you from somewhere” and for Adele to ask, “Are you a photographer?” Almost in sync we uttered each other’s names. Serendipity for sure.
More used to seeing Adele in beautiful ball gowns backstage ready to go on and wow the audiences it was a contextual shock to the senses, however I soon found out that Adele has another passion and that is for cooking and running a tea room.
“The building was empty” she said. “The village needed a cafe so I thought, why not.” Why not indeed?
I cant think of many places in the world where you could walk into a tea room and be asked what you fancy by one of the leading sopranos in the UK.
What do the customers think. One gentleman who had snuck in for some tea and cakes without his wife’s knowledge said: “She’s wonderful. This place is lovely The cakes are fantastic.” Pointing to some of the local artwork on display, specifically a painting of a local colliery he said: “I did 35 years at that place.”
Other art on the walls was by way of the local school children at Ysgol Hendy. There were some beautiful interpretations of the Rebecca Riots.
Adele has been successful in competitions including the National Eisteddfod of Wales winning several prizes in the soprano class. She was the winner of the International gold medal singing competition at Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2008, and a semi-finalist in the International Montserrat Caballe singing competition in Zaragoza Spain in 2008. Not that you would know that as there is nothing within the tearooms to give any clues, apart form that is the larger than life singer herself.
The tables were all decorated with fresh flowers in dainty vases. Menu boards with chalked lists of delightful goodies, which really should be tried. This hidden gem (blink and you’d miss it) is located right next door to the Premiere Stores and PostOffice.
A dainty table is situated on the pavement outside and a sandwich board advertising coffee. There are parking spaces along the road or you could park further down in Pontarddulais or Hendy near the green and walk up easily. The tearooms also have a 5 hygiene rating.
Adele has performed in many operas with acclaim from both audience and critics. Her operatic roles include principal roles as Adina (L’elisir d’amore) Donizetti, Leonora (Il Trovatore), Violetta (La Traviata) Verdi, Micaela (Carmen), Bizet, Adele (Die Fledermaus) Strauss. Norma ( Norma) Bellini, Elizabeth (Mary Stuarda) Donezetti.
I could have easily stayed and waited in the hope that Adele would sing but she was far too busy for that. “Off to Hampshire tomorrow.” she said. “Running this place and juggling the singing isn’t easy.” We are just glad you do Adele. We will be popping in again to sample those lovely cakes and in the hope of a few bars from Carmen.
Open Weds-Fri 10.00am-4.30pm – Sat 10am-3.00pm
For general CAFE enquiries and CAFE bookings contact 07824999332