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The fit lady sings

Who ever said that opera was pants? Fiona Murphy might, but not in the way that you'd think. As a mezzo-soprano -- having a lower range than those who break all that glass with their high Cs -- Murphy often plays parts that are called "trouser roles". "As Marilyn Horne once said, 'I'm the girl who doesn't get the guy -- or I am the guy,'" Murphy laughs. She tells us about herself, and about playing the part of Romeo in Opera Ireland's concert presentation of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

ARE YOU A DUBLINER YOURSELF? I'm from Lucan, and I studied here with Irene Thompson and Veronica Dunne. Then I headed off to a conservatory in Philadelphia after I did my degree at UCD. Now I'm based in London. I sing a lot of Mozart and a lot of trouser roles, like the Romeo I'm doing in this world premiere.

SO, WHAT doeS THAT MEAN, 'CONCERT PRESENTATION'? It's pretty much going to be 'park and bark' as the saying goes; there's just the singers and the orchestra. It doesn't limit you, you get the context of the story, and in some respects it's advantageous for the beauty of the voice, and the singing, and the lyricism of the music. Once you're into the music and the character, you're still delivering exactly what you would be, should it be staged. It can be a bit strange; I always prefer to physicalise a role, especially when you're playing a trouser role!

IS THIS OPERA LARK HARD WORK? It can be. I suppose there's a misconception that it's 'just' singing, and, of course, there's the whole thing about 'the fat lady singing' -- that doesn't exist anymore. Especially for females playing trouser roles, you need to be physically fit.

DO YOU COME AND SING HERE OFTEN? Since I've headed away, I've had many opportunities to come back. Opera Ireland has been very good to me; I was back last year to sing Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream. I do tend to sing in the concert hall a lot. It's really important to me to be able to come back and perform. I'm really lucky that nobody's forgotten me! - SC

Opera Ireland's 2010 Spring Season concert of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi in the Gaiety is on March 4th and 6th. See www.operaireland.com