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Body and Soul: On Miss Marple, sword dancing and loving opera

Annilese (34) is Artistic Director of Opera Theatre Company. Originally from Belfast, she is married to Darren McCallig. Annilese has joined forces with Opera Ireland, to direct Romeo et Juliette at the Gaiety Theatre.

My parents were . . . The best thing that ever happened to me; they had difficult backgrounds but worked their way up through college. My dad now runs a charity called The Northern Ireland Institute for the Disabled. My mum was a teacher and now does a lot of work for the UN and Unicef. It's true that life begins at 60.

The house I grew up in . . . Was in Bangor, near the sea. It was built on the site of an old brick factory so when you dug up the garden you would always hit bricks. In the front garden roses and potatoes grew because my grandfather planted them there, thinking it would be a waste to just plant roses.

When I was a child I wanted to be . . . Miss Marple. I have great hopes that I will grow into a very intelligent, beady-eyed old lady, who fights crime and drinks lots of tea.

If I could change one thing about myself I would . . . Love to be able to relax more easily. I sometimes wish I had an 'on' and an 'off' button.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at . . . Scottish Dancing with swords. I used to be a champion.

You may not know it but I'm terrible at . . . Anything to do with telling the time, I struggle using the 24-hour clock.

When I look in the mirror I see . . . A woman who is obsessed with opera, in a good way.

My favourite item of clothing is . . . A burgundy red retro swimsuit. When I'm wearing it I feel like a '30s blue stocking.

I wish I'd never worn . . . A fringe, when I was a child. It was totally uncontrollable because I had curly hair. It was the bane of my life.

I drive . . . My husband mad. I've never learned to drive a car but I love public transport.

My house is . . . In Rialto, in a block of flats that was originally built by Guinness. It's very solid. I feel places give out their own vibe and I think there was lots of love there; I love the vibe.

A book that changed me . . . Was poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins; he was a Jesuit Priest who used to preach in the East End of London.

My greatest regret is . . . That it took my husband six years to ask me out.

The person who really makes me laugh is . . . The comedian Tina Fay from 30 Rock, and Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The last time I cried . . . Was in rehearsals; I cried like a baby. We are rehearsing Romeo et Juliette and I cried at the scene at the tomb at the end.

My five-year plan is . . . World domination, and to pray nightly that my family and friends stay healthy and happy.

My life philosophy is . . . Something I saw in a picture of Hillary Clinton's office. It was a ceramic tile and written on it was: "Never give up. Never give up. Never give up."

Opera Ireland presents Romeo et Juliette at the Gaiety Theatre from February 27 to March 5. For bookings call 01 677 1717 or see www.ticketmaster.ie


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