Singer Celine Byrne on the effects the pandemic has had on her profession and personal lifeHighlights from The Pat Kenny Show
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- 2 Mar 2021
Soprano singer Celine Byrne joined Pat to talk about how the pandemic has affected her professions and industry and also how it has affected her personally on the death of her father and mother-in-law.
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The part Kenny show on news talk with Marter private network during current restrictions. Don't ignore your health concerns. Our expert team is ready to help. Well, we're joined now by soprano Celine Byrne, who, like all musicians, has endured a very tough 12 months or so as covid has put an end to all life gigs at Celine, however, has faced more than just a loss of earnings because she's had within her family a certain amount of coverage related to tragedy.
Celine, good morning and welcome. Good morning. Now, your pandemic has been, I suppose, marked by losses. You've you've lost some family members.
I suppose the pandemic has been kind of a mixture of everything that has happened to me. And unfortunately, my dad passed away early, like the pandemic. The shutdown happened in March. Actually, this time last year was when we got word that we had to stop rehearsals. And then a month later, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he died three weeks later. So he died on the 6th of May. And then at the time as well, my mother in law who lived with us for eight years, was also diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she died a week before my father.
And that was difficult probably for me. It was I felt more sorry for my husband because she was in hospital and contracted the virus, which meant that he wasn't able to really skin on skin, touch her or anything like that because he had to wear full gear. At least I got to hold my dad's hand as he was passing in a way that was a blessing. And then I suppose, you know, trying to get over that grief and then having, you know, not not trying to burden my family too much with my grief because I knew and, you know, everything is relative to what you know, to everything is relative to the person.
And my daughter at the time was going through her own kind of upset because she wasn't allowed to leave in search. She never got to say goodbye to her friends. There was girls that she had shared school with since baby infants, and she never got to say goodbye properly. And now I have that same problem with my son, with his junior cert being cancelled. So, you know, I think I've been affected in many ways by many different things.
And in your mother in law's case and your father's case, where they also they had cancers which proved to be terminal, but where they put down as covid-19 related deaths or not.
Yeah, actually, that's funny. When I was talking about that to my husband, because my mother in law would have been registered as a cause of death, even though she actually was asymptomatic. And the fact is that she had terminal cancer and the reason she was in hospital is because the cancer had moustaches onto her spine. And they were very, very worried that if she had been moved in the wrong way or something, that she would be paralysed.
So they were trying to give her radiotherapy to reduce tumour. But then I suppose it was out of their hands because the cancer was getting too aggressive. And then she contracted covid-19. So, yes, she was registered as COBRA death, even though it was a terminal cancer that she passed from.
Now, professionally, of course, for all performers, the music has stopped basically for for a year. I've spoken to you many times before about how opera singers work on your diaries are planned well ahead.
Had you a very full diary for 2020? I did.
And even this year and what I found was when the cancellations were coming, you know, in a way, there was a level level of acceptance where I thought, OK, you know, this is the virus. It's not going to be here forever. And, you know, just accept the consequences. And in most of my contracts, they're a force majeure, which is an act of God that they don't have to be compliant to giving you any compensation or anything like that.
And at the start, people had postponed and said, OK, we can't do this this year, but we'll do it in two years time. And that's fine. But then as more and more contracts were cancelled and the pandemic extended and there were just cancellations and no postponements, so I've just lost contracts left, right and centre and for what would have been a busy year last year. And this year, obviously, there's no guarantees and very happy that this vaccination is in process at the moment in Ireland.
But we still don't know with regard to the arts because we were the first to be shut down and I think we'd be the last to go back. But in other ways, we're trying to make the most of what we can do during these restrictions.
And I have good news that next week we'll be doing a live stream of Lebo M with Irish National Opera. So that's good news.
Well, that's great news because, I mean, I'm a great fan of the Broadcast Energy Theatre and, you know, it's been dark like other theatres, but the lights are going on again for you.
Tell me about the the live stream concert performance that you're doing. Yeah.
So it's going to happen on the 13th of March, which is next Saturday. And where I'm at the moment, I'm in the in the hotel and I'm kind of cocooning as such so that we can create a safe environment. We're going into the rehearsal room with our masks, singing with masks until we move next week and we do recording and then we'll be then advised on how to do that safely, too. So it's very exciting that we're getting to work and we're very blessed in a way that we are abiding by the restrictions.
But we're allowed to go forward because I think for me it's very exciting because I haven't worked in a year.
The last thing that I did was actually BOEM in in Germany, in Hamburg. And that was a wonderful experience.
And then I was going to carry on with that and do it somewhere else and never happened. And even last month, I was supposed to be in Covent Garden singing Liu and turned out another Puccini. And of course, that was cancelled. So with all the cancellations and feeling kind of like, when will this end? When this came about, it was just fantastic news. So we're going to record this and it's going to be available next year on CD.
And then at the end of working together for these two weeks, we're going to do a livestream and it'll be livestream from the stage of the Borgerson Theatre with orchestra, chorus and soloists. So we're very excited. And the theatre is also very excited because it's the first time it's opened. And it was due to when when we were told to shut down, which was when the pandemic started. When the virus happened, we were supposed to we were one week, one week away from staging Carmen with our national opera.
So it's kind of poignant that when we go back, it's Irish National Opera that open up the theatre.
Very good. And where do people buy tickets for the live stream? They can go on to Dot FM and they can buy their tickets there 15 years. But if they want more information, they can go on to the Irish National Opera website or the website of the board, gosh and theatre and all the information will be there. And yeah, we're all very excited as we were. We were like children yesterday when we all met and it was really funny because I'm such a extroverted person.
I wanted to give everybody a hug. You know, I just had to kind of restrain myself, you know, and just kind of say hello at a distance. And it was kind of strange. But yet we were all so excited because for some people, it's been the first contact with people outside of their bubble. So, yeah, it was great. We're all excited.
And I mean, for a singer like yourself, you still have to keep the voice well in tune. So even though there was no work beckoning for 2020, you have to keep your daily practise to make sure you get those high notes. Oh, yes.
Well, I'm very, very lucky because I live in the countryside, so I wasn't bothering anybody. You know, everybody's at home now. Can you imagine if I lived in a semi-detached and they were at home all the time due to the virus and then they heard this one singing next door and annoying them at all?
I they that bloody woman out of it again. Well, I'm lucky I live in the country. It's only the cows here. And yeah. So I be still working every day because, you know, my, my instruments in my body and I have to look after myself and keep the also keep the. Diaphragm, the muscles and everything working, and so I've still been working behind closed doors. All right, well, look, Esslin, this is a big event.
It's happening live streaming on Saturday, the 13th of March and have seven tickets available to purchase from Dysport, FDIC, DOT, EFM and to any other information you can get from board. Goche Energy Theatre Saleen. Thank you very much for joining us. That's soprano Celine Burne.