This much I know: Sandra Oman, musician

"The best advice I ever got is to try to live in the moment. The past is gone, we can’t get it back."

I don’t ever remember not singing.

When I was about two or three, I used to pull the wires out of the back of the television and sing into the plugs, pretending they were microphones.

I can truly lose myself in the music. I love telling a story through song, having the opportunity to express a wide gamut of emotions, feelings that I perhaps don’t feel as comfortable expressing in real life. 

I adore live performance and I suspect that I enjoy the adrenalin rush of nerves too. Let’s face it, anyone who gets up on stage is a bit of a daredevil anyhow!

After I left school, I worked in Dublin City Council and did a degree at UCD in Italian and French, while simultaneously continuing with my singing studies. 

I began to take on professional singing jobs and eventually it came to the point where I had to make a decision about giving up the day job. I took the scary leap and thank god, it was a decision I have never regretted for one minute.

My husband Conor has been my singing teacher/coach for the last 20 odd years. 

Of course it’s not always easy. That’s why people don’t like having their husbands teach them to drive and so on, but he truly is an exceptional teacher.

I may not always like what he has to say but I am a reasonable person insofar as I am very good at taking advice on board and giving it my full consideration. And he’s pretty much always right!

When it comes to my work, I am very disciplined. I make lists every day and try to achieve everything on them.

When I’m learning a role or new music, I set time aside every day to work on it. I’m not so disciplined however when it comes to things like housework.

The best advice I ever got is to try to live in the moment. The past is gone, we can’t get it back. Tomorrow does not yet exist, it may never come and there is little point in worrying about it.

All we have is this moment, today, right now. Live it to your capacity.

My main fault is that I am a compulsive worrier.

I know it’s very clichéd but you attempt, as best you can, to compartmentalise and say ‘I’m going to spend the next two or three hours looking at my music and then I’ll bring my daughter out for the afternoon or to the park or sit and watch a Disney movie together. 

I attempt to be as present as possible in the time I spend with her. It’s not easy because show business is not 9 to 5.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d be Audrey Hepburn. She epitomised beauty both internally and externally. She was a wonderful actress and her work for Unicef was exemplary.

If I could change one thing in Irish society, I’d wish that a greater appreciation of the arts would be reflected in government policy. 

I wish that there were more monies set aside by central government for the arts, which would facilitate the running of a full-time Irish opera company. As far as I am aware, we are the only capital city in Europe that does not have an opera house.

The most useful invention is the telephone

I am unquestionably an owl person. I am most productive late at night, which is disastrous really because it makes falling asleep much more difficult. 

My mind is still going 90 to the minute when I get into bed. But I’m truly hopeless in the mornings, it takes me a long time to get my act together and get into the mood to do anything at all.

My biggest challenge in life so far has been dealing with my own failings, overcoming performance nerves, learning to be more assertive and less dependent.

So far life has taught me to expect the unexpected.

n On September 24 soprano Sandra Oman will star in ‘Nessun Dorma, The Life and Music of Luciano Pavarotti’ with internationally acclaimed tenor Alexander James Edwards at The National Concert Hall. Tickets from €25 are on sale now. 

And on October 20 Sandra Oman will star in ‘Mario Lanza, The Loveliest Night of the Year’ with tenor Sean Costello in Cork Opera House, October 22 in Limerick and October 23 at the National Concert Hall.


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