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INTERVIEW Tenors Séan Costello and Frank Naughton


Tenors Séan Costello and Frank Naughton will perform a fundraising concert in Ballinrobe this Friday, March 20.
?Tenors Séan Costello and Frank Naughton will perform a fundraising concert in Ballinrobe this Friday, March 20.

All the world’s a stage

Ciara Galvin

FORGET Vienna, Carnegie Hall and the National Concert Hall, Ballinrobe Community School is where you can see the crème de la crème of classical talent.
Tenors Seán Costello and Frank Naughton, who sing together as Duo Vocis, will perform their show ‘From Broadway to La Scala’ this coming Friday night, March 20. The concert is a fundraiser for Ballinrobe Musical Society – and there could be no more apt duo than Seán and Frank, who are no strangers to the amateur dramatics stage.
Frank, who hails from Galway, where he lives with his wife and their twin sons, was singing since he could talk. His love of music grew in school and he enjoyed performing so much he joined the Galway Musical Society, where he was nominated for the title of Best Male Voice by the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS).
A native Ballinrobe man, Seán has returned to the Ballinrobe stage many times since moving to neighbouring Galway. The father of three has starred in a huge range of much-loved musicals, including ‘West Side Story’, ‘The Pirates of Penzance’, ‘The Desert Song’ and ‘Titanic’, and he has been honoured with seven AIMS awards.
Ahead of Friday’s performance Ciara Galvin caught up with the pair.

CG When did you decide to become classical tenors, and why?
SC I could never say I decided to become a classical tenor. Being asked to perform some of the great arias in concerts over the years awoke the classical tenor in me.
FN When I saw ‘Les Mis’ (‘Les Miserable’) in London at 13 years of age, I was hooked.

CG Do you get nervous before going on stage, and have you any rituals before going on?
SC No nerves for me. Preparation is the key to a good performance. I’m known to carry an iron in my bag for all occasions. Plenty of coffee and of course water on tap.
FN I only get nervous when there are unknowns involved, like a new orchestra member, a new sound guy; that’s why we try to keep the same team together. My only ritual is I like to iron my own shirt around an hour before the concert and polish my shoes, it gives me time to think I guess.

CG What’s the most memorable show you have done and your favourite venue?
SC I have had many memorable shows in Ballinrobe. ‘The Pirate Queen’ was one such, but my tribute to Mario Lanza has packed theatres all over the country selling out the National Concert Hall, Dublin seven times, Belfast, Cork and Limerick. I think singing in Las Vegas has to be top of the bill.
FN I guess my most memorable show has to be ‘West Side Story’, and my favourite venue is The National Concert Hall, Dublin.

CG Do you have favourite song to perform?
SC Classical, it’s ‘O Sole Mio’; Musical, it’s ‘Love Changes Everything’.
FN ‘Bring Him Home’ from ‘Les Mis’.

CG Seán, what do you enjoy most about coming home to perform?
SC Home will always be home, and it is special. Seeing the people you knew growing up appreciating and loving what you do.

CG How do you both juggle family life and performing?
SC Up in the air … but with a very understanding wife and family I am very happy to live this hectic fulfilling life. It’s who I am.
FN My wife and I work hard to keep it all going, she has a very busy working life also, but we enjoy the challenge.

CG Have you any plans to perform in an amateur musical production again?
SC It can never be a no, but right now I have lots of concerts and exciting things to do and places to go.
FN Not on my radar at the moment but I guess never say never.

CG Is there anything you miss about performing in musicals?
SC I miss the fun in the dressing room and the people you meet who become great friends. It’s where I got my experience from and that was invaluable. Now I just have Frank telling all the same jokes over and over again!
FN Well I guess I miss the amount of people involved in musicals. In my field, numbers involved would rarely top 12, and when the concert is over people are in the car heading for home – certainly not the same social dynamic that you’d have with a society like Ballinrobe who I believe like a fizzy drink or two after the show…!

CG If you could star in any musical, which one would you choose?
SC The ultimate part would be Valjean in ‘Les Mis’.
FN Again, and at the danger of repeating myself it has to be ‘Les Mis’.

CG What is your greatest achievement?
SC Every day I look back and think that today is a great achievement.
FN I guess that’s for others to judge in later years, but I’m proud of the fact that in a small country like Ireland we’re able to eke out a living in this very difficult profession. It’s not for everyone, but what it may lack in financial rewards it more than makes up for in artistic reward. They say if you find a job that you truly love then you’ll never work a day in your life. I agree.
CG What’s your next big goal?
SC It changes by the day. I don’t look too far ahead as I like to enjoy every day. I just build tomorrow’s dreams on today’s successes.
FN Well I can’t speak for Seán but I’m sure he’ll agree that each year of Duo Vocis we’ve been expanding, and I think that is our long-term goal, to keep at it and make it as popular as we can in this small niche market of opera and musical theatre.

CG What can people expect from this Duo Vocis show?
SC An exciting evening of music, memories, toe tappers and of course smiles. We like to say that we bring the magic to the music.
FN Fun, fun, fun!

CG Any other musical projects or shows planned?
SC We have a cracking new show on ice just waiting to launch. Just trying to find the time to perfect it.
FN There’s always stuff on the horizon for both Seán and I, we never rest long on our laurels. Watch this space!

Tickets (€15 each) are on sale in Tacú Family Resource Centre, Ballinrobe, call 094 954 2907, and in Treacy’s Pharmacy, Ballinrobe, and Westport; Murphy’s Centra, Ballinrobe; Grogan’s Travel, Tuam; Mary Daly’s Pharmacy, Cong; Vaughan’s Shoes, Castlebar; and any Ballinrobe Musical Society member.