Irish soprano Celine Byrne will accompany world renowned tenor Jose Carreras when he performs at the Waterfront Hall on October 17 at a concert marking the opening of the 51st Belfast Festival at Queen’s. And the beautiful singer from Kildare, who made her opera debut in 2010 playing Mimi in La Boheme for the Scottish Opera, confides that the famous Spanish tenor is “very excited” at the prospect of visiting Northern Ireland for the first time.
“Jose and I are more than singing partners now, we’re friends as well,” says Celine, a seasoned soprano who studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and has performed for President Obama.
Byrne began touring with Jose last year, establishing a firm friendship and vocal partnership.
“The concert at the Waterfront will be Jose’s first time in Belfast and I am very much looking forward to showing the city to him.
“I love Belfast because it’s small enough for you to feel that you know it well, but it has all the benefits of a big city - the best of both worlds really. I think it’s a unique place because you have this mix of British and Irish influences. It’s beautiful and I think the buildings are fabulous.
“Jose is actually very excited about visiting Belfast.”
Byrne has performed in prestigious venues including the Carnegie Hall, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Berliner Philharmonie.
“Jose is wonderful,” says Celine. “He’s an incredibly generous performer and an incredibly generous man. He’s lovely and he’s humble. Because Jose is from Spain he really loves to choose a repertoire that has plenty of Mediterranean passion in there,” Byrne explains. “In Belfast we will sing lots of popular arias, pieces from The Merry Widow and duets like the Brindisi from La Traviatta will all be in there. I particularly love singing the Spanish pieces with Jose; Duo de la Africana is my favourite. It’s about a couple fighting. In the middle of it I have to sing a part that’s really like a very fast tongue-twister melody and it’s funny because I can see that Jose is almost laughing wondering if I’m going to stumble over my words.”
Jose Carreras and Celine Byrne, Waterfront Hall, Belfast, October 17. Visit www.belfastfestival.com.