The Shape I’m In: Cara O’Sullivan, soprano

Cara O'Sullivan

Cara O’Sullivan has started exercising in Educo gym in Ballincollig in the last few months. 

Cork soprano Cara O’Sullivan is known for her soaring big voice, which can fill the largest auditoriums. But, like every professional singer, the range of her voice has changed with the passing years.

It’s a fact she accepts with grace and humour. 

“I used to sing [Mozart’s] ‘Queen of Night’. But I can’t sing it anyone. I need a scaffold to get up to that — it’s stratospherically high,” she says.

Off stage, there isn’t a whiff of diva about her but there are times when she makes the most of her lung capacity. 

“If someone was shouting me down they’d have their work cut out for them. I’m my father’s daughter — he had a big strong voice — and I would be able to let a few roars out of me,” she says.

She also believes in letting rip when singing for her beloved team Munster rugby, with “the supporters roaring with me.”

* Cara O’Sullivan performs at Cork Opera House on Sunday, February 12 

What shape are you in?

I could be in better shape; I could be in worse shape. I love walking. Also, in the last few months I started [exercising] in the Educo gym in Ballincollig. Normally, I hate gyms. 

I don’t know what to be doing in them. But there you have a personal trainer and they tell you exactly what to do and for how long — it takes just 20 minutes. 

I haven’t been in there for a few weeks due to the pressure of work but, as soon as the big concerts are finished, I’ll be back in there again.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I discovered the yoghurt FAGE. It has zero percent fat and very little sugar. First thing in the morning, I have it with strawberries, raspberries and linseeds. 

It keeps me going for several hours. My other breakfast would be poached eggs on toasted McCambridge brown bread.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

Guinness — though I haven’t had it in a while now. I started recently on Coors Light. I’m not a big wine or spirit drinker. My other guilty pleasure are these miniature wafer ice-creams I get in Aldi. I keep them in my freezer. 

They are half dipped in chocolate and half wafer — delicious. I used to love things like crisps but I’ve an issue with my oesophagus, it’s called achalasia. My greatest guilty pleasure is a battered sausage from Jackie Lennox’s — it’s heaven.

What would keep you awake at night?

Twenty years ago, I had a cancerous tumour removed from my leg and had to have radiotherapy. At that time I lost the ability to sleep. My average now would be five hours a night. 

If I’m feeling stressed I don’t go to sleep. But I’ve got used to it and I keep going. However, as soon as I get home and I’m in a relaxed state I go out like a light.

How do you relax?

Sudoku, I love it. Crosswords — only the easy ones, I can’t do the cryptic ones. I can pick them up and drop them as it suits me. I like walking. I find it very therapeutic. I often bring my two dogs, Benny, a yorkshire terrier and his son Charlie, a jorkie.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Dr Christian Bernard; the opera singer Edita Gruberová. I love her voice, it was similar to mine when I was younger; John ‘The Bull Hayes’ — I’d say I’d be up early in the morning cooking for him. And I’d love to have my Mum and Dad back.

What’s your favourite smell?


What would you like to change about your appearance?

I got a big hair cut — a big bazzer. I’m thrilled. I got sick of minding my hair. If there was a smell of rain I’d be like Dolly the sheep, it would be all frizzy. I got it rid of it and I don’t know myself. Now all I have to do is wash it, put a bit of cream into it and beat it into shape.

What traits do you least like in others?

Lack of small courtesies to those around you. When someone is polite to you, I think that’s wonderful. As a general rule men are very courteous to women in Ireland. In other countries they couldn’t give a rat’s ass.

What traits do you least like in yourself?

Trying to keep the weight at bay. I would never try to be stick thin but it’s always a concern. My biggest problem though is I can’t remember things. I forget people’s names and I’m mortified.

Do you pray?

Yes. I love when the first of February comes round, I always buy St Bridget’s crosses from children selling them in the street in Cork. I try to support them.

What cheers up your day?

Coffee in Costa — a medium americano.


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