2012 promises to be a big year for Cliftonville singer Marcella Walsh, one of the North’s fastest rising opera stars. The former Dominican College, Fortwilliam pupil is a recipient of the prestigious BBC and Arts Council’s Young Musician Platform for 2011-2013 and on Sunday, December 18 the 24-year-old wowed the Ulster Hall with a spectacular performance with the Ulster Orchestra.

Where were you born and where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?

I was born on April 20, 1987 in The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. I went to Fortwilliam and graduated from Queen’s University before I moved to Dublin and studied for a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching & Performance followed by a Master’s in Operatic Performance at The Royal Irish Academy of Music.  No matter where I travel there is no place like home

What is your earliest memory?

Singing ‘I Can Sing A Rainbow’ at a talent competition and winning a green crocodile cuddly toy

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I always wanted to be a music teacher and spent endless days writing notes to the school secretary and marking books

What are the worst and best jobs you have ever had?

The worst was singing backing tracks for an American songwriter.  My best so far have been my contracts to sing leading operatic roles and being flown to New York to sing in The Waldorf Astoria Hotel

Who is your most inspiring person?

My music teacher Maebh McKeon in Dominican College watched me performing the aria O Mio Babbino Caro for my A Level music exam and said she could envisage me being an opera singer onstage.  Maebh encouraged me to reach for the stars, keep your feet on the ground, always work hard and do it all with a smile.  Opera star, Maria Callas inspired me to sing this aria from the heart, totally committed to the music and emotion of the piece, and to share the love of the music with people. My amazing mum Patricia Walsh was there to support me when I performed this aria with The Ulster Orchestra in The Ulster Hall at a BBC Christmas Invitation Concert live on Radio Ulster. My mum is the most loving, supportive and inspiring person in the world.

What is your favourite book film and band?

My favourite book would be Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. My favourite film is Pride and Prejudice (how could I leave out Mr Darcy…) My favourite band is Simply Red, those songs never get old

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Anne Hathaway

Do you have a favourite joke or quote?

“Don’t dwell on the past, don’t worry about the future, seize the moment.”

What is your most treasured possession?

My voice

What is your greatest fear?

To lose my voice

What are you very good at?

Performing and communicating

What are you most proud of?

Receiving the Student of the Year 2008 from Queen’s University

What place would you like to visit before you die?

La Scala Opera House, Milan and hopefully perform there one day!

What was the last text message you received?

Congratulations from my friend on my latest performance and my gorgeous dress!

If you were a politician what is the first thing you would do?

Campaign for funding for the arts and music education

If you won the lottery what would you spend it on?

I would set up bursary awards for young opera singers and donate most of the money to charity

Who would be your five guests (dead or alive) for the perfect dinner party?

Opera singer Anna Netrebko to chat to, Robin Williams for the laughter, Shirley Bassey to sing, Nigella Lawson to cook and my singing teacher Dr Veronica Dunne to impart a lifetime of wisdom and knowledge

How do you want to be remembered?

Through my music and singing

What do you like most about North Belfast?

I love the friendliness of the people and the view of the Napoleon’s Nose from the top pond in the Waterworks. This is the image that comes to mind when I am travelling and feel a little homesick, as soon as I arrive home I take my border collie Jess for a walk