Gavan Ring: On My Culture Radar
The baritone on his adoration of Capriccio, Di Caprio and Jack B Yeats
Favourite current book?
I recently finished a PhD in early 20th-century Gaelic opera, and I got into reading literature around that. So at the moment I’m reading Music Preferred: Essays in Musicology, Cultural History and Analysis in Honour of Harry White, who’s the chair of music in UCD and one of the most influential musicologists of our generation. Opera struggles to get cultural currency in Ireland compared with traditional music, which is why I’m passionate about it.
My go-to restaurant in Dublin is FX Buckley on Pembroke Street. They do the best steak in the country. I had a tenderloin there yesterday and it just melts in your mouth. They also do great sides, like their beef dripping chips, and they’ve a fantastic selection of wines, too, like the Malbec I had yesterday, which really brought out the flavours of the steak. It’s also got nice decor, lovely staff and it’s centrally located just off Lower Baggot Street.
Dylan Moran because I’m a huge fan of surrealism and abstract humour. I love that he uses them as tools for social commentary. No matter how much his material is outlandish, there’s an underlying vein that makes it almost philosophy-as-entertainment.
I’m a huge fan of Jack B Yeats’s paintings. I grew up in Cahersiveen, on the southwest coast of Ireland, surrounded by a wild, rugged landscape, and so much of his work uses that subject material, so every time I see something by him, I feel transported back to my childhood. The power of the wildness and that in-your-face ruggedness is such a feature of his work.
I recently performed in Capriccio by Richard Strauss. When I was first learning it, I found it so tricky. But about five weeks into rehearsal, with a full orchestra, it all came together and I fell head over heels in love with it. I finished the run at the end of June, but I haven’t stopped listening to Capriccio since. I have it on a loop on my iPhone.
It has to be New York. I was there for the first time in November, and it’s the most vibrant place on Earth. You get off the subway and you can instantly feel that something really amazing could happen. If I won the lottery I’d relocate myself and my family there and live smack bang in the centre of Manhattan.
Leonardo Di Caprio is a total chameleon. He assumes so many different personas in such a convincing way, and I love his intensity. I aspire to that dramatic intensity in my own roles and I’m impressed with the visceral quality he brings to everything. He gave an amazing performance in Shutter Island, and was incredible in Django Unchained. And I love The Departed, but that was an amazing performance across the board with Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Leonardo Di Caprio and Alec Baldwin – it’s just a bloody marvellous film.
I love my Gaelic football and sports podcasts, so I listen to Second Captains a lot.
I’m a bit of an Applephile. People are starting to go off Apple, but from the moment I got an iPad in 2004, I’ve never looked back. All my technology syncs together, and I love the ease that comes with that. They have me totally hooked, brainwashed and indoctrinated. I’m not surprised they’re a trillion dollar company now.
Social media profile
On Twitter I love @Opera_North, who are based in Leeds. They have an innovative digital marketing team, who are always coming out with entertaining ways of hooking people in so they’ll eventually see some opera.
My wife and I have two kids so we get very little time to watch television, but we’ve started rewatching Game of Thrones. We figure that if we watch it slowly, by the time season eight comes out next year, we’ll have caught up and be refreshed with all the storylines. But my favourite series of all time is RTÉ’s Love/Hate, which was mind-blowingly good. The performances of Ruth Negga, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Rob Sheehan are just incredible. And the writing! Holy God, it’s just so good. We rewatch it every few months.
Gavan Ring appears in Ravel’s L’enfant et Les Sortilèges with the London Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle tonight as part of the BBC Proms