I caught up with rising opera star Kelley Lonergan in between shows at Wexford Opera Festival last October where she was busy as a member of the Festival Chorus. You can read my roundup for the Irish Examiner here. She filled me in on me how she had come to the world of opera singing via a circuitous route.
Although her family were musical theatre stalwarts in her home town, Clonmel, it was to study piano with Jan Cap that she first came to Cork School of Music. She went on to do Masters in piano accompaniment there. An opportunity to do an Erasmus year in the Italian opera centre, Verona gave her a chance to develop her singing . As a guest at the home of the Arena repetiteur, she saw every aspect of the opera production process and she hasn’t looked back since. ‘It was always a dream at the back of my head to go for the singing but I didn't think then that it was a realistic option but here I am and I am loving it’.
Lonergan was a member of the show stealing Milliner’s Chorus in Il Capello di Paglia di Firneze and also in Christina, Queen of Sweden. Her chance to shine in a solo role came as part of the line up in Una Hunt’s Irish Connections concerts that have been a big hit at Wexford 'Audiences have been very moved by the nostalgic parlour songs from the early part of the century. We have seen people moved to tears as the songs bring back memories of byegone days. It is such a privilege to be part of that. It is about the music but it is also about engaging your audience'. Does she have a preference for the either the stage work or song recital. 'No not really When I'm singing I'm happy . I love the chorus work but I love also reaching out and touching a listener with just your voice alone'. Lonergan has had a very successful year on the competition front collecting bursaries from the RDS and Feis Ceoil. The bursaries have allowed her to concentrate on studying and to improve her technique
Kelley Lonergan is currently a member of the Young Associate Artists of Opera Theatre Co. She is currently studying with Sinead Campbell Wallace and Aoife O Sullivan. She will be singing at the RTE NSO Summer Lunchtime series on Tuesday 1st July when she will perform arias by Puccini, Leoncavello and Cilea. Watch the video clip for little foretaste of what is in store on Tuesday.