A question of taste: Mary Hegarty

Mary Hegarty cats to Des O'Driscoll about her favourite tastes

Mary Hegarty is an opera singer from Ballinlough in Cork. She will be performing at the Clonmel ‘Finding a Voice’ (March 8-11) festival with Capella Lyrica. the choir from CIT Cork School of Music. She also lectures in vocal studies on the degree programmes at the college.

Best recent book you’ve read: How to be Human by Ruby Wax — I love her funny accessible style and practical suggestions for mindfulness exercises. I find myself laughing out loud.

Best recent film: Has to be The Young Offenders.

Best recent show/gig you’ve seen: Sweeney Todd at English National Opera with Bryn Terfel, Emma Thompson, and my student Molly Lynch. Fantastic music and a masterclass in performance from Emma T.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): ‘Four Last Songs’ by Richard Strauss, sung by Renee Fleming.

First ever piece of music that really moved you: ‘La Traviata’ on the record-player at home with Dad, following the musical score. His knowledge and enthusiasm rubbed off on me as I began to understand the emotional power of opera.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one): A toss up between Der Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera with Renee fleming in New York and Count Basie in a small jazz club in San Francisco.

Tell us about your TV viewing: Again, it has to be The Young Offenders. Also, Dara O’Briain’s Mock the Week is a regular favourite, wildlife and animal rescue and, recently, a couple of Netflix murder series.

Radio listening and/or podcasts: RTÉ 1 and Lyric FM, John Creedon definitely. What are podcasts?

You’re curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill, living or dead? Mozart, Frank Sinatra, and Renee Fleming.

Your best celebrity encounter: Paul McCartney, I was singing at the Gramaphone Awards in London. We chatted about his Liverpool Oratorio that I had recently premiered in Dublin.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why? Vienna, the last quarter of the 18th century, great music and opera and I just love the style, fashion, and chocolate torte.

Do you have any interesting family? My siblings, we have two sets of twins and a single, Jim. For many years we had a family band named DOUBLE UNIT that played the local dancehall circuit. We had great fun playing support for acts such as Chips, Horslips, the Miami and, dare I say, Gary Glitter!

Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the profile/praise they deserve: I really admire the fantastic day-to-day work done by the Cope Foundation for Cork’s special needs community. The arts therapy activities are particularly joyous.

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree? Universal free state healthcare. If I got a second wish it would be to revamp the education system along the Scandinavian model, with no homework or exams!

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