Popstar to Operastar: Bernie Nolan

Bernie Nolan, one part of the celebrated Nolan Sisters, had a very personal reason for signing up for Popstar to Operastar. “When I heard about this series, it immediately appealed because my mother was the only trained singer in our family.

“She won a place at the Royal College of Music in Dublin, but didn’t go because she wanted to do musical theatre instead. That was a good decision because I wouldn’t be here if she’d gone to the college! But were she alive today, she’d be absolutely thrilled that I’m involved with this project. I’m doing it for her.”

Bernie, whose band have sold in excess of 25 million records worldwide, has already gained so much from being mentored by Katherine. “It’s a joy!,” beams the 49-year-old. “The experience has been incredible. I’m learning so many things I never knew I needed as a singer.”

Bernie, who sang lead vocals on The Nolans’ smash hit, “I’m In The Mood For Dancing,” continues that, “I can definitely take what I’ve learnt here back to my pop career. Pop singers tend to lose their voices a lot more than opera singers, and now I know why. With pop singers, the voice comes from the throat, which wears it out. With opera singers, it comes from the stomach which makes it last much longer. I now know to protect my instrument, as they call it. The other day, the teacher told me, ‘you have to sing from the diaphragm’. And I replied, ‘that’s funny – I don’t even wear one!’”

The singer, whose group supported Frank Sinatra, underlines that Popstar to Operastar, “is such a great idea. It’s a reality TV show where you actually have to learn something. But boy is it difficult! You’re learning a new way of singing and breathing, and in a foreign language. I can’t refer to anything, and I might be putting intonation in the wrong places. And if I lose my place in the lyrics, I’ve had it!”

The singer underscores how much she is relishing her time with Katherine. “She’s so lovely,” Bernie enthuses. “The other day, she was making a point she couldn’t quite explain, so she just sung it. She was amazing, but all the time I was thinking, ‘please don’t sing. It makes me feel rubbish!’ It’s been so great. I’ve learnt something new every single day.”

Lisa McGarry

Lisa has been watching reality TV for too long now. She won't do any housework unless 'Big Brother' announces it over the tannoy and everything she does has to be put to a public vote!