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‘When Covid lockdowns were announced, all my upcoming contracts were cancelled. It was a hard pill to swallow’

Me & My Money: Tara Erraught, mezzo-soprano

Dublin’s Tara Erraught is one of the world’s leading international mezzo-sopranos. She is the special guest at Vladimir Jablokov’s Viennese Christmas Gala Concert at the 3Arena in Dublin on Sunday, December 17th. vladimirmusic.com

Are you a saver or a spender?

I have always had to spend on travel and accommodation along with furthering my studies with coaching and language classes. Along with saving for the future, I continue to save to spend on my career.

Do you shop around for better value?

Not only for the best value, but for the best quality. We work so hard for our money and I prefer to spend it on things that are quality made and have potential to last.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

As an artist, most of my purchases – such as concert dresses, make up, flights, hotels, and so on – may seem extravagant to people, but these are the necessary tools of my trade.

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What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

The sheet music itself is always quite an expensive work tool, with each score costing €100-€200. Sheet music books that I will highlight, scribble in, mark up, stick notes in and really abuse to the naked eye are work tools that travel the world with me. It is always better to buy hardback copies that will last – that one investment can last an entire career!

How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?

I did a huge amount of online shopping but as soon as we were able, I shopped locally, and I still shop local where possible. Even when sending parcels and gifts abroad, I try to always use Irish companies that champion local products.

Do you haggle over prices?

Never. My grandfather would disown me to hear that, but I have never been in a position to haggle over anything.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?

Covid changed everything. Before Covid, an expense I had that most people did not was the purchase of masks. Wearing masks was not new to me as, for years, I travelled for work using an FFP2 mask to avoid picking up any cold or such. The expense of travel has risen dramatically but it is a vital part of my job. Where it used to cost €150 return Dublin-Munich, it is at least double that now.

Do you invest in shares?

Not at this time.

Cash or card?

Card. To my detriment. Some continental cities are not card-friendly yet.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

The last thing I bought was an Omron, a hand-held personal humidifier. It is an important piece of kit for any singer, not just for the obvious health benefit of keeping the vocal cords humid, but also to administer any medicines that need direct contact with the vocal muscles. It was not inexpensive but my previous one lasted six years, so it is a worthwhile investment.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

In my first year in Munich at the Bavarian State Opera’s Young Artist Programme, we were paid full-time wages. Munich is an expensive city, but each week I would save some money for Christmas presents. About 10 days before I was due to fly home, I bought every member of my family something. Knowing that my singing had paid for it all was not only a matter of huge pride, but also a massive relief to see that one could have a full-time job in the arts!

Have you ever lost money?

When Covid lockdowns were announced, all of my upcoming contracts were cancelled. It was a hard pill to swallow, but like my colleagues we had to sit it out at home, and wait. The following weeks brought 18 months of more cancellations, so the loss didn’t stop there.

I am lucky, of course, to be back at work. Things are going again, but I don’t believe it will ever return to pre-pandemic times, and many of my colleagues decided to begin again in a different industry.

Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?

No. Not at all. Money is hard earned, and I wouldn’t risk it.

Is money important to you?

It takes money to sing, to stay healthy, to live well. I live to sing, and in turn, need money. If one could sing or work in this industry without thinking about money, then I would be delighted to ignore it. However, that is not the case. Like any athlete, I have coaches – musical coaches, linguistic coaches – and other expenses that help further my abilities. I will admit, however, that I am one of the lucky ones who is able to earn a living doing something I love.

How much money do you have on you now?

What a question to ask a lady! It’s a tap-tap-tap world now, so who knows?!

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea