THE Taoiseach Micheál Martin paid tribute to Cork soprano, Cara O’Sullivan, saying “Cork is very proud of her legacy”.
The singer, who was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2018, passed away at Marymount Hospice on Tuesday at the age of 59.
The Taoiseach said he was deeply saddened to hear of her passing.
“She had a beautiful voice and the warmest personality. Cork is very proud of her legacy and I will always value our friendship,” he said.
Lord Mayor, Joe Kavanagh, described Cara as “a real musical icon of Cork culture”.
“Her vibrant personality lit up every venue she performed at and her incredible talent was undoubted. She will be a huge loss to so many.” Cara’s friend and fellow soprano, Mary Hegarty, said she was “heartbroken” for her family including Cara’s daughter Christine.
“She was a one-off in every way. We sang together in the Cork school of music and throughout our career.
Speaking about Cara’s illness, Ms Hegarty said it was heartbreaking to watch.
Her illness took the life out of her, it was heartbreaking to see.
Ms Hegarty added: “she was a great person, she will be sadly missed.” RTÉ presenter Evelyn Grant, who knew Cara well, said she was an amazing talent and personality, who raised a lot of money for Marymount, where she then spent her final days.
“She was a great character, an enormous talent and true friend.” Former Lord Mayor, Independent Councillor Mick Finn said while Cara was a “superstar” of the stage, for which she renowned internationally, that she was also a great supporter of local groups and indeed was a big supporter of Munster Rugby.
“She lived their motto, ‘Stand up and Fight’, in the last two years of ill health and leaves a musical legacy that few from Cork have ever done.”
Over her 30 year career, Cara performed at world-renowned stages such as Sydney Opera House, Paris Opera and London’s Royal Albert Hall among others.
Closer to home, Cara performed many times at the National Concert Hall who said that the Cork soprano had a talent that was “truly world-class” and will be long remembered by those who were fortunate to hear her perform.
“Cara was much-loved by Irish concert-goers and musicians alike. As one of the best-known Irish singers of her generation Cara had an ability to win over audiences with her vocal talent, musicianship, warm character and good nature, endearing her to all those who knew her,” a spokesperson said.
Cork Opera House CEO, Eibhlín Gleeson said that Cara was a consistent presence on the Cork Opera House stage throughout her entire career.
“Her contribution to the arts is immeasurable. Cara went above and beyond for her community and was incredibly generous with her talent.
She used her voice to bring joy and hope to anyone who was lucky enough to cross her path.
"She was incredible to work with, an unbelievable talent, a consummate professional and a breath of fresh air.
She was fun, vivacious and hilarious. She is a huge loss to Cork and to the Opera House.
"She will be truly missed.”
Tim Healy, Chair added: “The loss of Cara, at such a young age, is immense, and will be felt by everyone who had the pleasure to have met or worked with her.
“The love that the people of Cork in particular have for Cara was on show in abundance at the Celebration concert in Cork Opera House in 2019.
"The warmth and joy in the room was a testament to the special place that Cara held in everybody’s heart. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cara’s friends and family at such a difficult time.”
Graduating from Cork School of Music, Cara’s first major role was in 1996 when she performed the role Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with West National Opera.
She later went on to perform starring roles in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Cosi Fan Tutte, Verdi’s La Traviata, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Verdi’s Requiem in a career that spanned over 20 years.