FEW non-professional singers will ever get the opportunity to perform on stage with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, let alone three of Ireland’s top sopranos.
That is the situation Limerick garda Sean O’Mahony, from Kildimo but now living in Athy, finds himself in as he prepares for Limerick leg of the Three Sopranos Summer Gala tour on June 6.
To mark the show’s tour, RTÉ’s John Murray show was enlisted to select a listener to take part in the various concerts. After an application by his wife Marie, pub singer Sean found himself belting out Christy Moore’s Black is the Colour live on radio - a song he goes to “any time I am starting off, to settle the nerves”.
“It was a surprise to me, my wife sent in an email,” he laughs.
“They rang me up and interviewed me, I sang for them, and they accepted me. I sang for them in the back garden, live on radio,” he laughs.
Sean, who returns regularly to Limerick and expects family and friends to attend the UCH concert in June, will be singing the popular Neapolitan song O Sole Mio on stage with acclaimed sopranos Celine Byrne, Regina Nathan and Cara O’Sullivan and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, with John Finucane conducting.
“It is in Italian, but they sent it down to me phonetically,” he explains of the song.
“We went up to the National Concert Hall and practiced with the symphony orchestra, which was a bit daunting, it is an experience everyone should have, even just to listen to them,” he adds.
Sean has received coaching for the show, which will be presented by TV star Kathryn Thomas, by renowned soprano Regina Nathan, who lives near Ennis.
He admits he focussed on hurling rather than singing as a “young lad”, but Regina says he is a “natural”.
“He is great, a natural, it is amazing how much talent is out there,” she says. “I really loved working with him and I am looking forward to the concert. He picked up things really fast and the right spirit is there to do it and enjoy it.
“It is a great idea because it is not too serious and it is the experience of being up on stage, singing with an orchestra, that you normally would not get,” adds Regina, whose career has taken her around the globe, from Kuala Lumpar to New York’s Carnegie Hall. The show will also feature solos, duets and specially arranged trios to be sung by the three sopranos.
On performing in the UCH, Sean says: “It will be brilliant, again fairly daunting, but I am going to go for it. The RTÉ symphony orchestra don’t normally play with people like me, so it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“The fact that it is in Limerick, my home town, makes it all the better,” he adds.