My Weekend: I saw my first Opera in my 20s and I was hooked!

Rachel Croash is one of the artists taking part in Cork Opera House’s Cara O’Sullivan associate artists programme, performing at venues around Cork during July
My Weekend: I saw my first Opera in my 20s and I was hooked!

Pictured at the launch of Cork Opera House’s Cara O’Sullivan Associate Artist Programme are opera singers Rory Musgrave, Emma Nash, Rachel Croash and Gavan Ring. Picture: Miki Barlok

TELL us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Rachel Croash and I am an opera singer from Dublin. Growing up I always loved music and singing in choirs, but never would have imagined a career in opera! It wasn’t until my early 20s that I saw my first opera, Puccini’s La Bohème — from that moment on I was hooked! I sobbed as poor Mimi said her final goodbyes to her beloved Rodolfo.

I was reminded of that moment as we rehearsed our La Bohème for our inaugural performance for Cork Opera House’s Cara O’Sullivan associate artists programme.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

After the last year and a half of lockdowns, a night out with friends for some beautiful food and drinks sounds like a dream.

Lie ins or up with the lark — which is it for you?

I don’t naturally wake up at the crack of dawn, but I’m definitely more productive and alert in the morning time so I force myself to get up early and get the day off to a productive start. Thank God for coffee!

My schedule varies completely from week to week but, when I can, I try and pencil in a lie in on Sunday mornings.

It’s so important to take time to rest and recharge, especially now that things are reopening and our lives are getting busy again.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Definitely, often I have rehearsals, shows or practise and preparation to be done at weekends. This can be one of the downsides to the business as sometimes you have to miss important family occasions. Thankfully, my friends and family are extremely supportive and understanding.

Emma Nash, Rory Musgrave, Gavan Ring and Rachel Croash.
Emma Nash, Rory Musgrave, Gavan Ring and Rachel Croash.

If money was no object, where would you head to on a weekend city break and who would you bring with you?

My sister and her partner live in London with my gorgeous little two-and-a-half-year-old nephew, so that will definitely be my first post-lockdown trip. No other destination could possibly compare to the idea of giving my little nephew a hug in real life again.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

Some of my favourites are the Glendalough Spinc trail, Bray to Greystones cliff walk and Howth Head. I think we’ve all grown to appreciate even more what our beautiful country has to offer.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies, even as a spectator?

I’ve gotten really into yoga and running this past while. It’s been nice having this time to explore new hobbies and I’ll definitely be keeping them up.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter, do you have a signature dish?

I definitely wouldn’t brag about my cooking skills. I’ll happily volunteer to do the washing up instead.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go-to spots for coffee/lunch/special meal?

Whenever I tell someone from Cork that I’m vegetarian, they say I HAVE to go to Cafe Paradiso, so I’m really looking forward to checking it out while I’m here this month.

Sunday night comes around too fast. How do you normally spend it?

Once I get myself organised for the week ahead, I like to completely switch off and have a chill evening watching Netflix and early to bed —I’m clearly super boring!

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

This week it is set for 6.30am so I can get in a short work before getting to the Opera House to warm up for rehearsal. It’s going to be a busy month with three wonderful operas back to back, so keeping a healthy routine is key right now.

CORK’S OUTDOOR OPERAS

This summer, Cork Opera House launched its Cara O’Sullivan associate artist programme with a series of outdoor operas inspired by the much-missed soprano. The programme will celebrate and promote four opera singers, providing opportunities for them to perform for Cork audiences throughout 2021.

The newly appointed associate artists are sopranos Rachel Croash and Emma Nash, tenor Gavan Ring and baritone Rory Musgrave. During July they will perform Puccini’s La Bohème, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Mozart’s Cosí Fan Tutte.

The project is the brainchild of Cork Opera House chief executive Eibhlín Gleeson, in collaboration with directors John O’ Brien and Conor Hanratty.

“This is a very special moment for Cork Opera House for two reasons,” says Ms Gleeson.

“Primarily, we are taking this moment to celebrate the enormous contribution made by Cara O’Sullivan to opera and to our region.

“In addition, this is an opportunity for Cork Opera House to provide the people of our beloved city with operatic repertoire at this very strange and unusual time for the arts,” she says.

“The programme has been created in Cara’s memory and is designed to provide a platform to singers in her name, creating employment and continuing the incredible tradition of supporting and encouraging operatic talent in our community,” Ms Gleeson explains.

“With this programme, we celebrate and remember Cara’s enormous generosity and the support and kindness she showed to other singers.

“Our four chosen associate artists are among Ireland’s brightest, established opera singers and we are privileged to welcome them to this programme and our outdoor series.”

The socially distanced live shows are set to take place at Emmet Place, St Anne’s Park, Cork City Gaol and St Mary’s Dominican Church. Private performances for the residents and staff of Marymount University Hospital & Hospice are also planned.

The performances will be free, but limited in capacity. Those scheduled at Marymount Hospice will be available only to residents of the services for older people and specialist palliative care service.

Performance dates

La Traviata, Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 July (City Goal and Emmet Place)

Cosi Fan Tutti Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July (St Mary’s Dominican Church and Emmet Place)

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