Sarah Brady one of newest recruits at Staatsoper Hannover
Award winning opera singer, Sarah Brady from Tullaniskey, Mullingar, is one of the newest recruits at the world renowned Staatsoper Hannover opera house and stars in a documentary released to coincide with World Opera Day.
Sarah, a soprano, plays the part of the governess in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, based on the chilling novella of the same name by Henry James. It tells the story of a governess desperately trying to protect her charges from evil in a remote country house.
Reviews of the performance say the opera house was lucky to have found a singer as good as Sarah, who joined them after a stint in the opera studio and ensemble in Basel. Her performance of the role of governess has been described as little short of career-defining, revealing a warm, rounded timbre, nigh on perfect diction and a convincing stage presence.
Sarah was on a train “in the middle of Germany somewhere” on her way to Switzerland when the Westmeath Examiner caught up with her last week. She said she loves to travel and discover new places when she is singing, and it seems normal for her now to be living aboard, but she misses home.
“There’s something about the people in Ireland – there aren’t many people like the Irish and I always love to embrace our humour, kindness and openness when I am back home. Of course it’s hard being away from my biggest supporters, my mammy, Veronica Brady, and my two sisters Michelle and Rosie, but we are in contact every day and we are so close that our bond carries over the distance,” said Sarah.
“I also really miss singing in Ireland – there’s nothing really like singing at home for the people you know, who support you and cheer you on. I hope that I will return very soon to sing at home!”
Sarah is now 27 and living in Hannover, where she is a member of the Staatsoper Hannover ensemble. She was educated at Gaelscoil an Mhuilinn, and St Finian’s College, Mullingar, where she was a scholarship student of the Schola Cantorum.
“I didn’t actually apply for the scholarship when I started school, but I was taking singing lessons with Claire Creamer in St Finian’s and had chosen music for my Junior Cert, and was later asked if I wanted to join the Schola Cantorum after they heard me sing, I guess!
“That was a huge turning point for me, as I was studying and being taught by people who had a huge knowledge and love for music, and it really made me consider studying music at third level for the first time.”
Sarah originally wanted to be a vet, because of her love of animals and the connection she has with them, something featured in the documentary. “I grew up surrounded by nature and animals, especially when I spent time with my grandparents Phelim and Margaret Brady on their farm in Killyon, County Meath, and I associate this a lot with my love for nature,” she said.
Her love of horses came when she started riding at the age of eight at a summer camp and her obsession grew from there. “Finding the time to ride now is not so easy, but even being around any animal, whether a horse or a dog, is a huge love of mine as it brings me back to myself in what I can only describe as a meditative form.”
In her final years at St Finian’s, singing took over. She was studying singing with Helen Hassett, and her music teachers were Ger Lillis and Tracey Fleming. Sarah decided that as much as she wanted to work with animals, she felt singing was what she was meant to do. She studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin with Mary Brennan.
“My time there was wonderful, and enabled me to jump-start my career by singing in concerts in places from Ireland to New York, London and even Estonia,” Sarah said. In 2015, her father passed away quite suddenly and she was not able to sing for a couple of weeks “because of how connected your voice and emotions are, but I eventually got back on my feet and I think I was stronger than ever and actually singing the best I ever was”.
Sarah went on to win the 2017 RDS Music Bursary, which helped her in her move to Switzerland that year. A casting director from Theater Basel heard Sarah singing in Dublin and invited her to audition for the opera studio OperAvenir in Basel.
“I went to Switzerland on my own, and got the information that I was accepted right after my plane landed back in Dublin the very same day. I was over the moon,” she said.
Sarah’s career really took off from there. She was based in Theater Basel in 2017-2020, where she sang many great roles on the operatic stage and got to do what she wanted most.
“I was asked by the same casting director to come to Staatsoper Hannover in 2020, where I have been for almost two years now, and my career is going from strength to strength despite the pandemic closing the theatres. We continued to rehearse and did some live streams, and now we are back performing for a live audience again,” Sarah added as her train trundled on towards Switzerland.