Kildare native’s growing international reputation
Kildare woman Celine has won numerous awards for her vocal talent both at home and abroad.

Music lovers are in for a treat when Bizet’s Carmen, a co-production with Opera Philadelphia and Seattle Opera, in partnership with Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, is staged over four nights.

This is an opera that elicited the ultimate compliment from Tchaikovsky when he said it is a “masterpiece in the full meaning of the word”.

Carmen was composed by Frenchman Georges Bizet and first performed by the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875 – 145 years ago this month. The opera broke with convention, shocking and indeed scandalising its first audiences. Bizet died suddenly soon after its premiere, unaware that it would achieve international acclaim within the following decade.

Today, Carmen is one of the most popular and frequently performed operas, with Habanera from Act 1 and the Toreador Song from Act 2 being among the best known of all arias. Its accessibility makes it appealing to a wide audience.

The opera is set in southern Spain and tells the story of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous torero Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage.

Carmen gained its reputation through productions outside France, and following its revival in Paris in 1883 it rapidly acquired popularity at home

The depictions of what would now be called working-class life, immorality, lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial at the time of its premiere. Most reviews were critical, and the French public was largely indifferent. Carmen gained its reputation through productions outside France, and following its revival in Paris in 1883 it rapidly acquired popularity at home.

Celine is one of Ireland’s finest musical talents, and her popularity is due to a number of factors

The upcoming version in Dublin features Paula Murrihy in an exceptional theatrical interpretation of Carmen, while the role of Micaëla is played by Celine Byrne, of whom The Arts Review said is “simply extraordinary in range, depth, and texture”.

Celine is one of Ireland’s finest musical talents, and her popularity is due to a number of factors. Her undoubted talent, allied to her great personal warmth and her grounding in her native Kildare, has won her an immense and very loyal following at home. Her international reputation is also growing year on year.

In 2007, Celine was awarded first prize and the gold medal at the Maria Callas Grand Prix in Athens

A lyric soprano, Celine received her master’s in music from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2007, where she studied with Dr Veronica Dunne, also receiving the RIAM award for outstanding achievement. In addition, she has an honours music degree from the Conservatory of Music and Drama, Dublin, where she was awarded the gold medal for excellence.

In 2007, Celine was awarded first prize and the gold medal at the Maria Callas Grand Prix in Athens. Other awards include the Margaret Burke-Sheridan gold medal in 2009, the William Young Prize at the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition, Dublin 2007 and the ‘Brabants Dagblad Press Prize’ at the IVC International Singing Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

Celine is now recognised nationally and internationally and made her operatic debut in 2010 singing the role of Mimi in La Bohéme. By 2012, she was to be heard at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in the lead role of Dvorak’s Rusalka which she took over at very short notice.

Celine has also performed with world-renowned tenors José Carreras, Roberto Alagna and Joseph Calleja

She won acclaim for that performance and this led to her performing extensively throughout Europe, the US, China, Russia and Mexico.

Celine has also performed with world-renowned tenors José Carreras, Roberto Alagna and Joseph Calleja and future engagements include concerts with Carreras in Europe, China and Russia. Last season, Celine made her American opera debut, while this season she debuts at the Opéra National de Paris and at Hamburg State Opera.

With tickets for Carmen priced from just €15, this is an opportunity to see our Irish star Celine Byrne shining on home territory. Carmen will be staged on 22, 24, 26 and 28 March.