Friday 18 October 2019

'I like nice things, but I'm trying not to stake my happiness on them'


Opera star Rachel Kelly
Opera star Rachel Kelly

International opera star Rachel Kelly was born in Cork and raised in Dublin. Now living in London, Kelly has sung in the Royal Opera House, Teatro Real Madrid, and Opera di Firenze.

She will be making her debut in the English National Opera this June, singing Hansel in Hansel and Gretel. She will also be making her debut in the Wexford Opera Festival this October, singing the title role in Rossini's Adina. See

What's the most important lesson about money which your career in opera has taught you?

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and negotiate for the most.

What's your favourite song about money?

I love Abba's Money, Money, Money because it evokes that avaricious desire to have it all immediately and to "win a fortune in a game" - which makes for a nice break from reality.

The most expensive city you ever visited?

Definitely Copenhagen. I was singing with the Copenhagen Symphony Orchestra and decided to order some room service in my hotel - a salmon salad for €50. I received a tiny bowl with a teaspoon-sized amount of salmon and some paltry leaves arranged on top.

What's the most you've ever spent on musical equipment or a piece of music?

Bärenreiter scores [pieces of music published by a respected music publishing house] are generally expensive. They can be €60 each and I have a big collection at this point.

What was your worst job?

I've never had a tough service job and I know that's very lucky. I used to teach music before I became a full-time opera singer - both of which have brought me such joy, so I can't really complain. I have been on some grim tours around more neglected parts of the UK singing in less-than-glamorous venues - so one of those evenings would probably be my answer.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

My shopping addiction to beautiful clothes. I've spent a lot of money on clothes over the years.

Are you better off than your parents?

Definitely not. They are baby-boomers and I'm a millennial. They are mortgage-free and own a lovely house. While some people might argue that I've probably been wasting my money on avocados, I'd love my own place, and I am saving - but I currently rent in London.

If you won the Euromillions, what would you do with the money?

I'd divide it up between my sisters, friends, and family. I'd also give some to charity. I'd spend my share on a modest flat in London and a flat in Dublin so I could continue to pursue my passion for singing and music, but with much less stress.

The best advice you ever got about money?

As a freelancer, you should always have a year's salary kept aside at all times - to allow you to walk away from any job if you feel the artistic balance is not right. Some sage advice from my husband.

What was the last thing you bought online?

Hyaluronic face masks. I love skin care.

Would you buy property now? Why?

I am looking at London apartments as the market is starting to look more affordable. However, I've been holding off since the Brexit referendum as I feel it is looking very risky with businesses leaving the UK. So my husband and I are waiting to see what happens and continuing to add to our potential deposit.

Do you ever haggle?

I find haggling very difficult. but as a freelancer you do have to know your worth and stand up for your fee. Thankfully, my agents deal with most of this.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

Moisturiser, coffee, and mascara.

Are you a materialistic person?

I like nice things and comfort, but I'm trying not to stake my happiness on them. A Buddhist phrase I continually come back to is: "Too many blessings become curses". So I try to appreciate what I already have and challenge myself to want less.

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