PHOTO: KRISTIN SPEED
Tara Erraught, the 28-year-old mezzo-soprano from Dundalk, Co. Louth, will make her U.S. debut on Monday in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” at Washington National Opera, Washington, DC, (with performances also on May 15 and 17).
It’s been a rapid rise for Erraught – the daughter of two chefs, both of who teach at college level – since she joined the studio at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich in 2008.
“They call it ‘breakthrough’ when a star is born. And this is exactly what happened in Munich‘s Nationaltheater,” wrote a German critic in 2011. “What astounding sense for nuances and control of phrasing at this young age. Tara Erraught creates moments of wonder. She shows a sensibility that is key to Bellini – and to the hearts of the cheering audience.”
When she appeared the 2014 production of “Der Rosenkavalier” at Glyndebourne, the critics universally praised her singing, with the Guardian saying: “Erraught was touching… every moment beautifully sung and acted, ardent and appealing. Her voice is rich with dark glints and bright promise and she offered some of the best singing of the evening.”
Now that she is about to sing on this side of the Atlantic for the first time, the Irish Echo asked her to take time out to answer a few questions.
Tell us something about your family back in Ireland. Do they get to see you perform outside Ireland?
Let me start by saying, I feel incredibly lucky to be Irish. Many people say "you cannot be a prophet in your own town," and coming from Ireland, I can tell you, this is just not the case. Not only do my parents and extended family often come to see me all over the continent of Europe, but I have been blessed with wonderful engagements in Ireland, including my first Gala concert with the RTE National Symphony orchestra, this coming June 5. My family have been an incredible support since my first singing lesson aged 10, everything from driving me to lessons, competitions, piano lessons, you name it, to gathering 10 family members together (including my parents, grandparents, brother and sister) to fly to Vienna for my opening night of “La Cenerentola.” With such support, you can only ever be grateful. But I am also very proud to tell you that, a group of 65 people from my home town of Dundalk flew to Vienna for my house debut as Rosina in Rossini's “Il Barbiere di Siviglia.” So, not only do my family support me both at home and abroad, the country stands behind me too! Lucky girl, or what?
How important a milestone is your U.S. debut?
I am over the moon to be making my U.S. opera debut. In 2008 at the Belvedere competition in Vienna, I was awarded the Washington National Opera prize. I have looked forward to this debut ever since. To be able to debut with such a wonderful company in one of my most beloved roles, is a dream come true. There are so many amazing companies here and I am elated to begin my American journey. I am having a ball rehearsing and cannot wait to share this incredible music with the audience here.
The controversy [for more on that, see May 6 print edition] that swirled around you in 2014, it seems, has only helped your career in that it was about how you looked in a particular role rather than a commentary on your abilities. Do you agree?
In the first week of studying, my teacher told me "Darling you never read reviews during a run of shows." This is one of the many wise pieces of advice I live by, and it has served me well. Octavian is a milestone in any mezzo's career, and I learned a huge amount from it, and in turn I do believe it helped me indeed. I had no idea what had been said and did not read anything during my run of 13 shows, spanning six weeks. My job is to tell my characters story to the people in the audience each night, and that is exactly what I did.
Tell us something about what you do in your spare time, if indeed if there is any? Any past-times and passions that aren't directly related to your job?
I do indeed have spare time. One must always find time to live, or your art becomes less real. So indeed, it is a necessity. Also vocal rest is very important. When I am on contract somewhere for an opera, I love to sight-see. I always do "the big bus tour." One of the greatest ways to see a city and decide what you should hop off and look into.
I love to socialize, and always search out a good coffee place, coffees and chats. I am blessed with good friends, not just at home, or in Munich, where I live now, but in our industry, we are just a large family of singers, you always meet people you know on the circuit, and we tend to eat and explore together. I am also a keen embroidery fan. I take a new project with me always! It keeps my hands busy and frees my mind.
I adore when I go home, to spend time with my family. We laugh till our sides hurt. When my brother, sister and I are together, it's solid jokes for hours. Keeps my heart warm. God bless family!
Edited by Peter McDermott.