Saturday 19 January 2019

Dream come true

Ravensdale singer Tara Erraught tells Margaret Roddy how she is looking forward to singing on home soil with the newly formed Irish National Opera

Ravendsale’s Tara Erraught
Ravendsale’s Tara Erraught

Ravensdale mezzo soprano Tara Erraught takes some time out from rehearsals for the newly formed Irish National Opera's first major production, 'The Marriage of Figaro', which opens at the National Opera House, Wexford next Friday with four shows in Dublin's Gaiety Theatre from Tuesday April 17th to Saturday April 21st. Tara sings the role of Susanna in the production which is directed by Patrick Mason.

You've been really busy of late..New York, Barcelona, and back to Germany... what are the highlights of the last few months for you?

It has been a very exciting season so far! I loved my time at the Metropolitan opera for the tales of Hoffman and Hansel & Gretel, straight after that I did my 4th recital tour in the US, which was so much fun. Then I made my debut in Barcelona, which I enjoyed thoroughly, not just musically, but I also loved the city. It's such an interesting bonus in my job, to experience all of these different cultures.

Any favourite moments?

An absolute highlight for me, was singing at Midnight Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral NYC. It was a wonderfully warm welcome, which I was so proud to have my family at too.

Did you ever dream, when you were starting out, that you would be singing in such famous venues as the NY Met?

When I started singing I had no idea what the industry was like at all, but I knew I wanted to be in the middle of it! Geraldine McGee taught me the importance of storytelling from my first lesson, and that's what I love, wherever I am lucky enough to get to do it. From the Town Hall Dundalk to Carnegie Hall.

Is there much of a difference in working in the US and Europe, in terms of how operas are staged, and also how audiences react?

There is very little difference in all honesty. Mounting a production requires at least 6hrs rehearsals in the day, where the singers are directed but, we spend quite a lot of time feeding off each other's energy. Once everyone in the room has gotten used to each other, the rehearsal room is a very exciting place! Luckily that part doesn't change. I have sung Hansel & Gretel in Germany more than 25 times, and they just Love it. It was such a treat to sing the same role of Hansel but in English for an American audience, I felt they really hung on to every syllable! It was such an exciting atmosphere!

How do singers get roles? Is it an auditioning process or are you invited to join a production?

When most singers start out there is an audition phase, where people do an audition tour of Europe, singing for the casting directors and conductors. Your manager then looks after the business end of things for you. If you are interested in a new role, you may be asked to audition again, But generally casting directors travel to hear performances very often. So you can also simply be offered a contract to be involved in a production.

What are your favourite roles and are there any which you would really like to do?

I very much love the women of Rossini, Rosina in il Barbiere di Siviglia and Angelina in Cenerentola. Susanna & Elvira (Le nozze di Figaro & Don Giovanni) are my favorite Mozart women, but I also LOVE Sesto in La Clemenza do Tito. Future roles?! There are too many to name!

What ambitions have you for the future?

I want to continue my promotion of Opera in Ireland. Both at home and abroad. Coming from Ravensdale, I have always seen what a legacy of talent there is in the Dundalk area. I would love to ensure that opera and classical music continues to grow and that the legacy of vocal teaching and inspiration continues to the next generation too.

Tell me about this new Irish opera company? How did you get involved? And your role?

There has always been opera in Ireland, but this New opera company, Irish National Opera, is a merger between Opera Theater Company and Wide Open Opera. In pooling their resources we are now able to produce 3 main stage productions in Dublin and also to have touring operas around the country.

Fergus Sheil's who has been a wonderful supporter of mine since the beginning, approached me to ask if I would be an artistic partner in the new company, a role I was delighted to accept. It is a privilege to perform with the company but even more so to be involved in this way artistically. Because of my busy international career, it means I can report back to the company about what is happening at the theatres I am working with, but also, about the other Irish artists I meet on the circuit.

Also what does having a company like this mean for Irish singers like yourself who mostly have to go overseas?

This is such an amazing opportunity for Irish singers! There is nothing at all like singing at home. Especially for me, I must say I have always had great home support, even at my debut in the State Opera of Vienna, there was a bus of people from Dundalk at my opening night! Now, I can sing on home soil. It's a dream come true.

What else have you lined up in the coming months? What else have you lined up in the coming months?

There are more, but announced 2018-19 engagements include Orlando Paladino (Alcina) at Munich's Princeregententheater, debuts with the Welsh National Opera (Angelina, La Cenerentola - eight performances throughout the UK - Cardiff,Wales; Oxford; Llandudno, North Wales; Bristol; Liverpool; Birmingham, and South Hampton), Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, two productions with Bayersiche Staatsoper (Despina, Così fan Tutte; Hansel, Hansel und Gretel), and Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira) for Berlin Staatsoper.

It's a busy lifestyle, but you certainly seem to enjoy it. What do you enjoy most and what are the hardest parts?

I love traveling; it's so interesting to see all of these wonderful countries, and to experience first-hand so many different cultures and cuisines. I have a wonderful family who are happy to travel, and I realize I am so lucky never to be too lonely because of that. They always come for house debuts, role debuts, long travel periods. The hardest part is not getting to come home as often as I like, and leaving never gets any easier.

I would like to thank the people of Dundalk, Geraldine McGee, and my family for having always supported me, believed that I could achieve these dreams! I wouldn't be where I am today without them!

The Argus