Celine Byrne: On My Culture Radar

Irish soprano on her love of Puccini, Zadar’s sea organ and why Liam Neeson is her favourite actor

Current favourite restaurant?

I live out in the country, Caragh in Kildare, and I’d normally go to Las Radas there, which serves delicious tapas. Peploe’s in Dublin is where my husband and I go on a rare night out. They’ve a nice selection of wines; I’d always get a perfectly-cooked steak there, and it’s private without being too private. Plus it’s right on St Stephen’s Green so we can take our pick of where we want to go afterwards.

Comedian

I love comedy. My dad said that if I wasn’t an opera singer, I’d have been a comedian and I still I love to add a bit of humour into my performances. I think Tommy Tiernan’s humour is really dry, witty and quick. It never feels like he’s rehearsed a comic monologue, like other comedians.

Play/musical

My favourite opera is La bohème by Puccini. I love his work, he’s my favourite composer. This work means a lot to me as I made my operatic debut with it in 2010, and it’s a wonderful, heartbreaking story. And at the moment I’m working on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. He writes in the verismo style and the orchestrations are so lush, they really get to you. On top of that, you have the singing and acting, and it’s so wonderfully written for opera singers.

Artist/designer

I follow Táine King, who’s a wonderful photographer. She started off as a portrait photographer, but now she’s a lot of things. She works for magazines and she’s produced a short film as well. She’s got a great eye. With any shoot she’s done of people I know, she really gets their character in the picture. She really pays attention to her subjects.

Album

Yesterday, I bought the Foo Fighters’ Greatest Hits. I have it already and I’ve got all their albums too, but I bought it because I’m travelling up and down to Dublin and it’s nice to put in the CD. I don’t listen to classical music unless I have to study it. Usually I listen to hard rock like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins and Biffy Clyro.

City

Zadar in Croatia. There are other cities in Croatia that are more popular, like Dubrovnik and Split, but even though there are tourists in Zadar, it's beautiful and authentic. It's a city break but you're also on the coast so you could have a beach holiday too. And it has my favourite thing in the world: a sea organ. It's out by the pier, and when the waves come in, it makes sound through the pipes. I could sit there for hours and listen to the winds and the sea organ.

Actor

I love Liam Neeson. I enjoy all his films, and I think he makes good career choices. I think his recent comments were taken out of context. If you listen to the whole interview, the subject of the whole thing was revenge violence. If he didn't mention the word "black", he wouldn't have been called a racist.

TV show

I just finished watching True Detective, which is brilliant, and now I’m following The Walking Dead now that it’s back on – it’s the series that my husband and I watch together. Sometimes my job is so emotionally challenging, and memorising three hours of another language is tough, so when I switch off I want to watch something entertaining where I don’t have to engage.

Film

My favourite film of all time is Moulin Rouge, mainly because Come What May was used in my wedding. The last film I went to see in the cinema was Aquaman – I’ve loved comic heroes since I was a child. A Star Is Born was okay, but nothing has really moved me in cinema of late. It’s special effects that wow me these days.

Celine Byrne stars in Madama Butterfly, appearing at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, from March 24th to 30th. See bordgaisenergytheatre.ie for details.

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