Facing the music: Tara Erraught – The Guardian

What was the first record or cd you bought?

A cassette tape of Celine Dion. I knew every single word! We travelled a lot in the car where my parents’ choices were more Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond and hits from the 1960s. My siblings and I would fight over who would sing the solo and who would take the backing vocals.

… and the last piece?

I recently bought my fourth recording of Ariadne auf Naxos, and also Now That’s What I Call Power Ballads. I buy recordings to study, especially if you can find a gem of a historic recording – I love live recordings of past opera greats.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

Don’t rain on my parade

There is no guilty pleasure in music. I proudly dance around my apartment to Bette Midler, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, I walk with Adele in my headphones, I love to work out to Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand (the power ballads such as Don’t Rain on My Parade), Jessye Norman singing Dich teure Halle! And The Dubliners and The Chieftains for a taste of home! And you have to do cardio to the Nozze di Figaro and the Barbiere di Siviglia overtures. I like to mix it up!

If you had time learn a new instrument, what would it be?

I would love to play the Irish harp. It has such a special sound – from the very first note I am taken home.

Did you ever consider a career outside of music? Doing what?

When I was younger I loved doing people’s hair, in fact, I still do. But at school, I was most interested in business. Most of my family are in the hospitality industry, so I may have gone in that direction. The hospitality industry is very much like the music industry: each night, a new performance, a new audience!

If you had to pick one work to introduce someone to the wonders of classical music, what would it be?

Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel. It’s one of the greatest first looks into classical music, I believe, because the orchestration is stupendous, the vocal music is so lyric and lush and above all, it is a story we all know from childhood.

What is the most unusual place you’ve performed?

For the launch of the BMW 7th series I sang Du sollst der Kaiser meine Seele seine to the car and a collection of invited guests in an abandoned airport, where the guests were allowed to test the car on the runway.

What’s been your most memorable live music experience as an audience member?

Anja Harteros singing her first Marchalin in Der Rosenkavelier at the Bayerische Staatsoper was heart-stoppingly good! But outside of opera, Riverdance Live took my breath away.

What was the last piece of music you danced to?

My brother got married in December, and there was a lot of dancing – I was clever enough to buy a matching flat pair of shoes and to have taken some jiving lessons before the wedding. Wagon Wheel was a favourite. But we also did the YMCA and It’s Raining Men in a fashion that has to be seen to be believed!

Which non-classical musician would you like to work with?

Bette Midler performing in London, 2015,



‘Inspiring’… Bette Midler performing in London, 2015, Photograph: Brian Rasic/WireImage

Bette Midler – imagine being on stage with her! Even as a child I loved her movies – her attitude to each role is so inspiring, so it would be incredible to work with her. And also, I’d love to work with the Rat Pack – the easy listening, jazzy harmonies, sleek performances, relaxed atmosphere…

Imagine you’re a festival director with unlimited resources. What would you programme – or commission – for your opening event?

I would have a Gala concert. Jessye Norman singing Dich Teure halle, Jonas Kaufmann and Angela Gheorghiu in the final scene from La Traviata, I would have Renée Fleming singing Strauss’s Four Last Songs, and I would have Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel for a section from Sweeney Todd. And I would invite the Bayerische Staatsoper Orchestra and Kirill Petrenko.

Which conductor or performer of the past would you like to have worked with?

I would have loved to have studied with Margaret Burke Sheridan, the Irish soprano who made waves all over Europe as the country’s first operatic export. She was the definition of poise and wonderful technically focused singing. She left a huge legacy in Ireland, one which I am proud to be a part of.

What do you sing in the shower?

Everything! I generally play the radio in the bathroom, so I sing along to whatever comes on! My love of music is rooted in the fact that it had no barriers.

Tara Erraught performs at the Wigmore Hall, London on 6 March.

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