Friday 24 May 2019

My Cultural Life: Rachel Kelly, opera singer

Rachel Kelly
Rachel Kelly
Dolly Parton
RuPaul's Drag Race
Handmaids Tale

Rachel Kelly has sung internationally at the Glyndebourne Festival, the Royal Opera House, Teatro Real Madrid, Maggio Musicale Florence, Opera de Rouen and Opera de Rennes. She comes from a musical family on both the Hunt (maternal) and Kelly side - her grandfather was Wexford-born composer TC Kelly. She is married to her first leading man and childhood sweetheart Shane and lives with him in London. They met 15 years ago when they were cast alongside one another in the Marian College school musical Guys And Dolls. She will sing the title role in Adina by Rossini at this year's Wexford Festival Opera, which runs from Oct 22-Nov 3.

Singer/songwriter: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

As an opera singer, it goes without saying that I love Puccini, Bellini, Mozart, Berlioz and Verdi. To choose a favourite would be like choosing a favourite child. So instead, I will mention a singer whose work I come back to time and time again - Dolly Parton (above). One of my formative memories is hearing the late Whitney Houston sing I Will Always Love You in The Bodyguard. I only discovered years later that Dolly wrote it.

Artist: Fiona Marron

My favourite contemporary artist is Clane-based Fiona Marron. She paints ethereal works of the Irish countryside and landscape. I went to an exhibition of hers recently in London and felt at peace looking at her works.

TV: RuPaul's Drag Race

The show that is "giving me life" (a phrase I've pilfered from the programme) is RuPaul's Drag Race (below) It cleverly blends ironic and accessible low-brow reality TV style with the hard-hitting realities of life in the LGBTQ community. Replete with drama, tears, backstabbing, bitching, sisterhood, costume catastrophes and personal struggle, it's really not a far cry from the backstage of a good opera house.

RuPaul's Drag Race

Design: Idano

Anyone who knows me knows I love clothes. For my preferred aesthetic, the city that consistently gets this right is Paris, where French-girl-chic is the order of the day. Happily, a white shirt, boyfriend jeans, a classic pair of pumps and a fabulous pair of sunglasses are all you need to look the part. One design house that gets this perfect, in my opinion, is the relatively new label Idano.

Book: The Handmaid's Tale

Handmaids Tale

Books that stay with me shake my belief systems, expose unknown truths, or reveal privileges I didn't even know I had. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood falls into this category. Next year, I will sing the title role in an operatic version of The Handmaid's Tale.

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