Leading British opera singer Della Jones has had to pull out of her visit to Whanganui to tutor at this year's New Zealand Opera School after a bad fall.

The acclaimed mezzo-soprano suffered a badly bruised right side and is unable to travel.

Fellow tutor, the Wagnerian tenor Simon O'Neill, has stepped into the breach and will stay a week longer at the school to cover Jones' scheduled master classes.

Opera School director Jonathan Alver said Jones was devastated at having to cancel. "But we are so fortunate that Simon has cancelled his plans and is helping us out."

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Jones, from near Neath in Wales, studied at the Royal College of Music and is well known for her interpretations of works by Handel, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Britten.

Meanwhile, O'Neill is adamant he is still a small-town Kiwi boy even when he morphs into a spectacular singer on the world's opera stages where standing ovations greet his performances.

Even though his work is all over the world and he and wife Carmel own a small house in London, he says living there once their children came along was simply not an option.