In Less Than Five Minutes, Get To Know – Bass-Baritone Rory Dunne

By Alan Neilson

Over the past ten to fifteen years, there has been an impressive supply of high-quality Irish female singers establishing successful international careers for themselves. However, this has not been the case with male singers, who appear to struggle to secure roles, even at Irish National Opera. One singer who appears about to buck the trend is bass-baritone Rory Dunne, who is currently performing the roles of Bohumir and Muezin in Dvorak’s “Armida” at the Wexford Festival Opera.

OperaWire: What was the first opera you saw? 

Rory Dunn: Bizet’s “Carmen” in Dublin. I was a late starter. I was 22 at the time.

OW: What was the first opera in which you appeared?

RD: “Tosca.” I played the small role of Sciarrone.

OW: What was the last opera in which you appeared?

RD: “Tosca” with Irish National Opera. Also as Sciarrone.

OW: What is your next scheduled appearance?

RD: Actually, I also enjoy singing in musical theatre. So I am due to sing a part in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma.”

OW: Do you prefer serious or comic opera?

RD: To perform, definitely comic opera, but I actually prefer to watch serious opera.

OW: What role would you most like to perform?

RD: It would have to be Gianni Schicchi. For a serious role, it would be Scarpia.

OW: Which opera character that you have played did you find to be most like yourself? 

RD: Falstaff

OW: Which opera character do you most dislike?

RD: Pinkerton from “Madama Butterfly.”

OW: Who would you invite to dinner if you could only invite three people, at least one of whom had to be involved in opera? 

RD: Mozart, and two of my friends from back home. I don’t get home that often.

OW: Name the person, from any walk of life, who has most influenced your career.

RD: Anne Drumm. She was an ardent supporter of what I was attempting to achieve. Unfortunately, she died last month. She did a lot to help me. A great person who I will miss dearly.

OW: What is your favorite music, outside of opera? 

RD: I love Tom Waits’ music.

OW: What is your favorite film?

RD: “Lost in Translation” by Sofia Coppola.

OW: What book are you reading at the moment?

RD: The final volume of “The Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan.

OW: Who is your favorite painter?

RD: I have an emotional connection with Jack Yates, W.B.Yates’ brother. My grandmother was his housekeeper, and he gave her one of his paintings on her wedding day, which we still have.

OW: If you hadn’t been an opera singer, what job would you have done?

RD: Actor

OW: What do you dislike most about being an opera singer?

RD: The instability and inconsistency of the job. You are constantly on the move.

OW: What do you like most about being an opera singer? 

RD: The amount of interesting people you get to meet.

OW: Beyond having the necessary skills, what quality do you think is most important for a successful career as an opera singer?

RD: You need thick skin. You need to know how to deal with rejection and criticism.

OW: What makes a good stage director? 

RD: They need to understand people, communicate well, and arrive prepared.

OW: Two adjectives to sum up your experience in Wexford

RD: Welcoming and Motivating.


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