Q&A with Irish Soprano Rachel Croash – William Tell – Gaiety Theatre

Q&A with Irish Soprano Rachel Croash – William Tell – Gaiety Theatre

Irish National Opera stage Rossini’s WILLIAM TELL in a new co-production with Nouvel Opéra Fribourg for a limited run at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. 8 – 13 Nov. https://www.gaietytheatre.ie/events/william-tell/

We had the chance to put some questions to Irish Soprano Rachel Croash ahead of her perfromance in WILLIAM TELL at the Gaiety Theatre. You can see the results below.

Where did you train/ what made you want to be an opera singer?

So being an Opera Singer was never really the plan, I just kind of went with the flow and now here I am! I studied music at Maynooth University where I sang in lots of choirs and dabbled in singing lessons but didn’t take it too seriously as I was just having a ball enjoying college life! It was only when I was about 25 that I started studying singing full-time at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and soon after that, I got my first gig singing in the chorus of Opera Ireland. I was SO out of my depth, I remember the curtain going up on opening night of Romèo et Juliette and I was so terrified that nothing came out of my mouth when I went to sing! …but once I got past those initial nerves I was hooked and fell completely in love with the music, the people, the storytelling and that’s when the hard work really began. I then completed a Masters at the RIAM while I sang in the Wexford Festival Opera Chorus and things kind of took off from there!

How did you get involved with INO?

I was very lucky to be chosen as a member of the inaugural INO Studio when the company was established in 2018. This was essentially a year long mentoring programme in which I was given small roles in productions, lots of masterclasses and regular performance opportunities. It was an intense but rewarding and exciting time, I learned so much from sharing the stage with top Irish and international talent and got to work with so many wonderful directors and conductors. Soprano Amy Ni Fhearraigh and Tenor Andrew Gavin who were also part of the original studio are also in this show too, INO feels like a little Opera family!

The return of William Tell is exciting, tell us about the role you have in the opera and what it means to you to be involved in this?

It IS exciting, this Opera is epic! Since my Studio days, I have been given lots of wonderful opportunities by INO, they have supported me and nurtured my development as an Artist and the role of Mathilde is a bit of a milestone for me as it is will be my first ‘leading lady’ role with the company. I’m super excited, nervous and everything in between! Mathilde is a Princess born into wealth and privilege but is willing to give it all up for the man that she loves, musically it is extremely challenging with firework coloratura and long beautiful legato phrases and I’m loving every minute of it.

Some of the music people will be familiar with in Rossini’s William Tell even if they have never been to an opera tell us about what that is.

I think most people will be familiar with the famous Overture, it’s been used a lot in film and TV throughout the years. Personally, I didn’t know the opera that well before I got the role, but when I started listening to it I couldn’t believe how stunning it is! It pretty much has everything you could want in an opera; huge epic choruses, heartfelt intimate duets and jaw-dropping heroic arias with high notes for days!

Why do you think people should come and see this production?

As someone who doesn’t come from a musical family I always ask myself this question, if my Mam and Dad come to the show will they enjoy it? Yes, 100%! I am in awe of the incredible singing of my colleagues, as a performer, it is inspiring, and the audience are in for a real treat. Our fantastic Director Julien Chavez and his team have put together a visually stunning show. I don’t want to give too much away but our set is quite minimal so the main focus is the expression and dramatic commitment and storytelling of those on stage, it is so engaging and exciting to watch.

What was the pandemic like for you as an opera singer?

We were just about to go into the Theatre for INO’s production of Carmen at the Bord Gáis when we got the call to say not to come in that day, the country was shutting down for two weeks and the show was being rescheduled. I’ll never forget the following days, weeks, and months as the cancellation emails flooded my inbox. It was a scary time for us all but thankfully the Irish arts industry is ferociously resilient and sometimes I find myself thinking how normal everything feels again. Prior to the pandemic I never took my career for granted, it is a difficult industry and there is a lot of hard work and sacrifice involved but I do have a greater appreciation now for the life that I live. If someone had told me in the height of lockdown that soon enough I would be back on the Gaiety Theatre stage singing Mathilde in William Tell surrounded by these incredible colleagues I wouldn’t have believed it, opening night is going to feel like a dream!

Irish National Opera stage Rossini’s WILLIAM TELL in a new co-production with Nouvel Opéra Fribourg for a limited run at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. 8 – 13 Nov. https://www.gaietytheatre.ie/events/william-tell/


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