Phoenix Rising

To mark her return to The Whale on Sunday, December 3rd, we asked budding opera diva JADE PHOENIX to put together a diary of her far-from-low key 2023…

Dear diary,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jade Phoenix, an aspiring opera singer from Dublin originally, but I grew up in Greystones. I’m going to give you an account of my 2023 so far and hopefully I won’t bore you along the way.

I was very fortunate earlier this year to be a part of the Irish National Opera Studio for young singers. An opera studio is for young promising singers; you audition to the opera house and if accepted, you spend the year working on the inside to better understand how an opera house functions.

In January, I had the absolute pleasure of singing the role of Nora Barnacle with the Irish National Opera in the world premiere of Old Ghosts by Evangelia Rigaki and Marina Carr. We performed the opera in the very intimate setting of the Moli Musuem. The opera itself was about the home life of James Joyce and his wife Nora Barnacle, the whole thing also professionally recorded as a film. I personally have never experienced working on a film set and it was extremely different to live theatre. It was especially challenging for all involved because not only did everything have to look perfect, we also had to make sure the live vocals and the live ensemble orchestra were perfect. I’m happy to say in the end it worked out extremely well and everyone involved was delighted by the end result.

In February and March I had the pleasure of singing the role of Second Orphan in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier and I also was a cover for the role of Der Marschallin with Irish National Opera. A cover means that if the performer singing the role of Der Marschallin was sick or unable to come into rehearsals for a day I would be asked to sing instead; this keeps rehearsals moving and means that the show can 100% go on! Der Rosenkavlier is one of my favourite operas, so it was a huge joy for me to hear all of the amazing cast sing.

In April and May I was also a cover for Despina in Irish National Opera’s Cosí Fan Tutte by Mozart. I had an absolute ball learning this role; it suited me perfectly and for those of you who don’t know, Despina is an incredibly fiery maid who is extremely clever and cheeky. These are the kind of roles that I absolutely adore; you can have so much fun on stage and really have a laugh.

In between all of these operas I had many auditions abroad. A huge part of being a singer means dropping a couple hundred euros on last minute flights for auditions abroad. You’re lucky if you get more than two weeks notice for an audition. It’s your responsibility to fund all of this travel, accommodation, food, etc. It can be very expensive.

A good friend who has been in this business a good bit longer than me gave me amazing advice when I was feeling really deflated about the cost of being an opera singer. She said you have to think of yourself as a business and right now you are an investment! You won’t get a return on your investment for many years, but if you put enough effort in you can reap the rewards in the future. She is completely correct. As opera singers, we put all of the money we make back into having the career, whether it be website fees, concert dresses, flights, applications fees for competitions, singing teachers, practice rooms, pianist hire, or so many, many, many more costs.

I was also fortunate during the year to have concerts here and there. I got to preform Gounod’s St. Cecila Mass with The New Ross Singers in Wexford. I also gave a private concert with friends in the German Ambassador’s home in Dublin. And the big concert of the year was the Irish National Opera Gala concert to showcase their opera studio ingers in June. It was also my last event with them as a studio member. It was an amazing concert with orchestra conducted my Fergus Sheil in the Pavillion theatre in Dún Laoghaire.

In July I went for a trip to Rome to study with a new teacher. It was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to go back as soon as I can.

The rest of the summer I spent flying back and forth to London for auditions and prepping for my upcoming role in Wexford Festival Opera.

In September, I arrived in Wexford. Right up until the beginning of November, I rehearsed and performed the role of Rosetta from Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara. This role was the most beautiful and fulfilling work that I have done yet as a singer. I have never been so proud to be a part of a piece of work like this before. It was my first leading lady role in such an important opera house and at home in Ireland! Which meant all of my friends and family could come and see me. This opera finished just three weeks ago, and I’m having a very hard time letting it go. I hope that some day in the future I can sing this role again.

Now this brings me to November, to now! My next performance will be in The Whale Theatre in Greystones, Sunday, December 3rd at 4pm. I adore coming back to The Whale. I used to work in behind the bar when I was studying in college, so, coming home and singing for friends and family is always such a joy. And I get share the stage with some great friends, bass-baritone Rory Dunne and pianist Richard McGrath.

It will be an amazing evening full of beautiful operatic arias and duets, and then we will move into some festvie music in the second half to get everyone in the mood for Christmas.

So roll up to the Whale this Sunday, get on your fluffy socks, let’s drink some mulled wine together, and sing our hearts out for a few hours! Looking forward to seeing you all there!

You can catch Jade Phoenix & Friends at The Whale on Sunday, December 3rd at 4pm right here, and find out more about the lady herself right over here.

Best wishes,

Jade

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