Gyula Nagy

Gyula is taking on the role of Marcello in this summer’s La Bohème

Recent and forthcoming engagements include Pizarro Fidelio (Lyric Opera, Dublin), Schaunard Bohème (Covent Garden) and Morales Carmen (Irish National Opera).

Gyula told Wasfi about his early days before he won the heart of the Royal Opera House Jette Parker Programme.

Where I grew up in Hungary is close to the beautiful lake Balaton. My parents had met each other in the choir society of the city, they have sung there for many years, they do even now and as a boy and teenager I joined the choir as well.

I started playing the trombone when I was a kid, and held on to it for a long time, I played in brass bands and later even in ska-punk bands. During grammar school, I took up singing as well. This was the time when we founded rock bands and I always wanted to be the singer in these. I think the main source of my passion for music was due to rock…

My first acting experience, as a kid, comes from our Catholic parish, where I served as an altar boy for many years. We, the altar boys and girls, performed mystery-play-type-of-things for Christmas and Easter, so suddenly I realised I really enjoyed playing various characters… the first few I remember were Death and Judas.

Gyula Nagy

Due to wanting to be involved in bands and to express our world changing messages – when I was not dealing with my aircraft models – I started to practise singing Guns’n’Roses in my room at home regularly. We lived in a block of flats, so I guess I was not too popular with neighbours, but hey, who knows… They were probably forgiving, never said a word … to me at least…   One of my parents’ friends was a singing teacher at the music school, so we decided it was better to have some lessons with him. He was a classical singing teacher, so, that is where I got to know songs and arias, and I grew to love classical singing as well. Classical singing and rock singing – being involved in many bands – went parallel for a long time, as well as playing the trombone and doing backing vocals in the ska-punk band, eskabbe, in which my brother played the trumpet. Well, that was some years of good craic for sure, sometimes too good… But after realising that getting ahead in ‘popular’ music was nothing like how you thought it had been in the past, it has hardly anything to do with writing songs and lyrics according to what you believe in, but to do it in a way and style that the result can be used as shopping mall music, if you know what I mean … we started to get disillusioned with popular music business, as it is nowadays as well, and I turned my focus more and more towards classical stuff and after graduating from the university with masters degrees of Theatre studies, English literature and linguistics, I went to Dublin to study classical music. From then onwards, I have channelled my passion into what I do now, we’ll see how far we can go

I live in Blessington, County Wicklow in Ireland with my wife and two small children.

Photo credit: Monika Rittershaus. The Fair at Sorochyntsi, Komische Oper Berlin.