Meet the Artist: Naomi Louisa O'Connell

Wednesday, 9 September, 2020
Llo 0770

Mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa O'Connell shares her musical inspiration as she prepares to return to the stage in Brian Irvine and Netia Jones' Least Like the Other, Searching for Rosemary Kennedy this September.

What's one of your all time favourite pieces of music?

Tracy Chapman - Be Careful of My Heart

I think what moves me most about this track is the honesty in her singing—the willingness not to smooth away the occasional husk and crack of her beautiful voice, because it’s truthful and serves the story. And the story of the song itself is about healing, about love, about self-preservation. It’s gentle, vulnerable and yet strong. But honestly, you could listen to any of her songs and be swept up in it—she’s remarkable.

What kind of music do you most like listening to and why?

I’m a big fan of Tracy Chapman. I love everything about the sound of her voice—the beauty, the depth, the sometimes-huskiness of it—and how her storytelling, which is always truthful and impassioned, is the primary focus. I listen to her all the time. A sublime artist.

Who is your biggest musical inspiration?

As a performer, Charlotte Rae. She could alter her voice to fit any character glove, and the nature of her career as comedian, singer and actor refused to be defined by just one label. Her album “Songs I Taught My Mother” is genius, and well worth a listen.

What was your first experience with opera?

As an audience member, I think it was a touring company of Porgy & Bess in Limerick. I remember it being wonderful. “My Man’s Gone Now” gave me shivers, and towards the end of the show the singer playing Bess timed a high kick with a musical flourish so perfectly that it sticks out in my mind.

What’s your favourite opera or piece of musical theatre?

Hard to choose. I’m deeply in love with Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. The original play is a masterpiece in itself, and then the music elevates it to another level, without ever overpowering the delicacy, the perfume, the suggestion… of the story. It was composed with such attention to detail. I like it when you can tell that someone has given the best of themselves over into the creation of something.

What was the last piece of music/song that you listened to?

The last operatic piece I listened to was a recording of Miriam Murphy singing the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, and it is staggeringly beautiful music-making. The world lost a truly great singer this year. It’s beautiful to listen to and you can find it on Fergus Sheil’s YouTube page. Highly recommend it.