Classical stars to stage show for soprano Anna Leese’s dying husband

Support: Anna Leese and wine-maker Stefano Guido, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease: Leonardo Savelli
Support: Anna Leese and wine-maker Stefano Guido, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease: Leonardo Savelli

Leading classical musicians are to perform a benefit concert at the Barbican for the terminally ill husband of an international opera star.

New Zealand soprano Anna Leese’s partner Stefano Guidi was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, an aggressive form of motor neurone disease, last April, just days after the birth of their son Matteo.

Mr Guidi, 42, an Italian wine-maker, was given two years to live and his diagnosis means his motor functions are seriously affected and will deteriorate.

José Carreras, one of the Three Tenors, leading English baritone Sir Thomas Allen and former English National Opera chairman Sir Vernon Ellis are leading the appeal to raise funds for the family.

Sir Thomas will host Song for Stefano at the Barbican on Saturday with performances from Sophie Bevan, Jacques Imbrailo and Jennifer Johnston. The concert aims to raise £25,000. An online appeal has already raised almost 100,000 New Zealand dollars (£56,000).

Leese, 35, said: “Our little life that we were building together was stolen from us 10 months ago.

“We are very lucky to have such kind and generous friends and colleagues who sympathise with our situation and want to help.

“Life has already become difficult for us, but we know we are going to face much tougher times ahead in many ways. Funds raised by friends enable us to have options for Stefano’s treatment and for him to see his family regularly over the coming months — which is life-changing.”

Sir Thomas said: “Anna’s musical family is coming together to demonstrate its love and support as she and Stefano go through this difficult time. We are determined to do all we can to help them have the resources in place to be able to face the consequences of this terrible disease. We are all looking forward to participating in a concert which promises to deliver some wonderful music-making.”

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