Weekend Q&A: Mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin – since theatres have been closed I've been painting more

Carolyn Dobbin is an artist and mezzo-soprano, whose current projects include work with Northern Ireland Opera

North coast-based mezzo-soprano Carolyn Robbin
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

Eat drink and be merry – isn’t that what everyone does? Well, when I’m not singing or painting. that is. Since the theatres have been closed I have been painting quite a bit, through the lockdowns actually, and am now starting to get commissions which is pretty exciting. This was always my retirement plan but it’s all started a bit earlier than I expected. I’m working on an exhibition in London at the end of June called ‘fermata’, a word used in music to describe a pause.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

Doing sports on Saturday then going to the youth club where I’d practise snogging the boys in the vestry. On Sunday morning I’d sing in the church choir as if butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth.

Friday or Saturday night?

Both. If I have a gig then I’m off performing which is great, earning a crust. Doing the Walkyrie is the first live performance I’ve done since the pandemic began – the last live role I did was the Witch in Hansel and Gretel for Irish National Opera last year. But if I’m free, then I get to hang out with my hubby and my pals.

Do you have a must listen weekend radio show?

BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Ulster – they have so many fabulous presenters like John Toal, Richard Yarr, Anne Marie McAleese and Paula McIntyre.

Must watch weekend TV show/box set?

The Queen’s Gambit, Call My Agent or any Scandinavian crime series. I love to catch up on Northern Ireland Opera’s latest film projects. I was fortunate to be involved in The Northern Song project where we filmed songs in some of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful landscapes, basically taking the songs back to where they belong. It makes you see and understand the scenery that inspired the poets and composers. I also can’t wait to see the latest film project that the fabulous new artistic director of Northern Ireland Opera, Cameron Menzies, has created, and in which I was also very lucky to be involved.

Favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

The Butterfly and Bear which is an amazing local north coast delivery service with a different theme each Friday night.

Is Sunday still special?

It’s quieter and more reflective than weekdays, and for me it’s Sunday roast, a dip in the sea and a long walk but mostly taking the time to find some solace in nature or in music or a beautiful sunset. This is for me now the direct line to the big G.

How do you feel on a Sunday night about the Monday morning

Depends what is on the Monday morning. Sunday nights can be filled with dread or joy depending on whether I have prepared the role enough that I’ll be rehearsing on Monday morning. It is a bit like being back at school and forgetting to do some of your homework. In that respect, nothing’s changed really.

Carolyn Dobbin will soon be appearing in Wagner’s Die Walkure for the London Opera Company and in Northern Ireland Opera’s upcoming film project, which features the songs of William Vincent Wallace.

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