It’s been a whirlwind six months for Caragh soprano Celine Byrne.
She made her debut at prestigious London venue Covent Garden in February, in true stage fairytale fashion covering at last minute for an ill lead singer pulled out.
She followed this with a short run as Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme last May, again covering for the original lead who was unable to perform.
“There are an awful lot of singers out there, in this profession they are two a penny. For me it was wonderful, it was somewhere I’ve always wanted to sing. It’s on every opera singer’s agenda to sing there,” she said.
Following Celine’s two performance-saving turns, it is now her turn to take the spotlight. She has been scheduled to return to Covent Garden at the end of next year, where she will take a role in Parsifal.
In June, Celine performed to a worldwide audience of 150 million in the closing mass of Dublin’s Eucharistic Congress. “That was something very special as well,” said the soprano, who enjoyed singing at masses when she was younger.
Last Saturday she took on the smaller - but in Kildare terms just as prestigious - job of singing the National Anthem and The Curragh of Kildare before the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on the Curragh.
The mum of three - Noel, 15; Ciana, 10 and Cillian, 6 - is married to Thomas and still lives in her native Caragh.
She feels that her time is finally coming to take her place among opera’s international stars. “I turned down an awful lot of things before because I just wasn’t as prepared to travel as much as I do now. It’s only when my third child went into primary school two years ago I felt I could fly a bit more. When you’re doing an opera, you’re away for six weeks.”
But despite her growing success, Celine doesn’t aspire to the world of ‘opera-lite’ crossover stardom.
“I don’t aspire to be the next Katherine Jenkins or anything like that. I am jealous of the way she looks and her money, but I don’t aspire to follow in her musical footsteps.
“I am a classically trained singer, and be that performing in concert or an opera, that’s where I am.
Next up for Celine is a stint in Klagenfurt in Austria.
But before that will be the Kildare woman’s first performance at the Riverbank Theatre in Newbridge, where she will perform on July 27.
“I’ll be singing some Viennese operetta and some well-known songs that people might know, such as Time To Say Goodbye as well,” she said.
To book tickets for Celine’s Riverbank concert (E22), visit www.riverbank.ie or call 045 448330.
- Laura Coates