Remembering Veronica Dunne

Monday, 5 April, 2021
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A message from INO Artistic Director, Fergus Sheil

Like everybody in the Irish opera world, I am heart-broken to hear of the death of Veronica Dunne today at the age of 93. Ronnie defined opera in Ireland throughout her long life. Her successes as a performer led her to many major international engagements, but her legacy will undoubtedly be as a teacher and as somebody who did more than anybody else to develop singing and opera in Ireland. The success of her students on the stages of opera houses throughout the world stands as her astonishing legacy today.

Ronnie was a demanding teacher of the old school. She stopped at nothing to get her way. She was forensic, fearsome and outrageous. She dug deep and insisted her students go beyond what they thought possible. Yet no matter how unvarnished her comments, you always knew that she came from a position of encouragement, belief and support. She could see the potential in students even more than they might have seen themselves.

I loved Ronnie’s total commitment to the art form. There was nothing for her more important than singing, no objective more noble than the pursuit of vocal purity and no sacrifice was too great at the altar of operatic beauty. Faced with this powerful vision, those who knew Ronnie fed off her approach, felt challenged, encouraged and enabled. There is a word for this: inspiration.

Like many others, I will miss her presence, her expertise and her personality. I never knew her as a performer, but if you listen to this recording from the 1940s you will understand what was so special about Veronica Dunne. Purity, musicality and vocal excellence. Rest in Peace.