Molly Sterling performs in Vienna ahead of Eurovision
The 17-year-old will represent Ireland in second Eurovision semi-final on Thursday
Singing on the stage of the Wiener Staatsoper, one of the world’s great opera houses, is an honour that could crown a career.
Sterling was one of only four of this year’s Eurovision acts to perform in Pop Meets Opera, a lunchtime concert headlined by star Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez and last year’s winner Conchita Wurst.
“It was mental,” said 17-year-old Sterling after the concert. “I get nervous when I can’t accept what’s happening to me - like, I don’t deserve to be playing here!”
Sterling said she overcame nerves by “going into my own little world onstage” and “vibing with” the two other Irish artists performing with her - co-songwriter Greg French and percussionist Jimmy Rainsford.
While this was doubtless a missed opportunity to promote Ireland’s Eurovision song Playing with Numbers, French explained that choosing a different song allows Sterling to keep their contest song fresh: “If she keeps on singing Playing with Numbers I worry that on the night when the lights are on, the raw emotion will be drained out of that.”
The selection of performers was made, a representative of the Austrian state broadcaster ORF explained, by a combination of the suitability of their music for the venue - all songs performed were ballads - and artists’ availability and interest level.
The concert is part of ORF’s efforts to exploit Vienna’s reputation as a high-art haven while honouring its current role as host of the world’s biggest pop song contest.
Wurst, sporting a new shoulder-length hairstyle and a sky-blue strapless frock, performed what she referred to as her “first chamber version” of last year’s winning song, Rise Like a Phoenix, accompanied by the seven-piece classical ensemble The Philharmonics.
Other artists sang opera and operetta standards by Puccini, Rossini, and Victor Herbert; all participating artists, pop and opera alike, united in an encore of Libiamo ne’ lieti calici from Verdi’s La Traviata.
Sterling performs in the second Eurovision semi-final on Thursday night.