DR VERONICA DUNNE, affectionately known as Ronnie, has lived a life high on drama and excitement, and an invincible dedication to her art. From a small music studio on Dublin’s Nassau Street to the vast arenas of Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and Covent Garden Ronnie has travelled far and performed with some of the greats in the world of opera – Sutherland, Barbirolli, Kubelik, Kraus, Ferrier – and triumphed in roles as diverse as Mimi, Tosca, Carmen, Blanche and Grandma Tzeitzel.
Her stage appearances span an astonishing sixty-four years. In the early days of the 1950s, Dublin audiences hailed her as the next Margaret Burke Sheridan. She fulfilled that accolade, and indeed surpassed it, for Ronnie uses her gifts and experience to recognise and train, feed, house and then launch many of Ireland’s finest singers to international acclaim. Suzanne Murphy, Patricia Bardon, Anthony Kearns, Tara Erraught and many others have stories of the hard graft, earthy common sense, moments of despair and occasions of hilarity along an often rocky road as Ronnie nurtured their voices and characters to prepare them for the challenge of becoming and remaining operatic stars.
The teaching goes on. Students at the Royal Irish Academy of Music are eager to be coached by Ronnie. There is an expectation of success that is realised time and again as they embark upon their careers. In 1995 Ronnie inaugurated a performance-based competition to provide aspiring Irish singers with a showcase and a proving ground. Since then the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition has flourished and now offers a global stage for the encouragement of young vocalists from Ireland, and the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. RONNIE explores the extraordinary life and times of a remarkable person. Here are the achievements, the struggles and heartaches, family and friendships of a life lived with verve, courage and passion.
“I could not put this book down – I just had to finish it. The real Ronnie leaps off the pages, her humanity shining through like a beacon. I laughed and cried over all the wonderful stories. The mutual bond and affection between Ronnie and her students is tangible. The final chapter on her approach to singing will be a reference guide and template for singers and indeed teachers for generations to come. It is a truly cracking read and, in racing parlance, by a country mile the best and most honest book I have read on any performing artist.” Paddy Brennan, Archivist to the Dublin Grand Opera Society