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The Contralto Cabaret

  • Stride la vampa! - Il Trovatore - Giuseppe Verdi

  • The Contralto Cabaret - Lyrics by Susan Cullen, Music by Adler & Ross

  • Song of a Nightclub Proprietress - Madeleine Dring

  • Pour une femme - La Fille du Régiment - Gaetano Donizetti

  • Afraid, am I afraid? - The Medium - Giancarlo Menotti

  • I am easily assimilated - Candide - Leonard Bernstein

  • Il Segreto d'esser felici - Gaetano Donizetti, English lyrics by Susan Cullen:

In a world that is fraught with emotion

We must seize every moment of gladness;

I will tell you, if you have a notion,

How to chase away sorrow and sadness:

Never let a kind thought go unspoken,

Or do something you'll live to regret;

Bonds of friendship must never be broken

That's a lesson we must not forget!


Bonds of friendship must never be broken

That's a lesson we must not forget!

We must never forget, not forget! x 2

We must never forget!

Mezzo Sings The Bard

  • One Charming Night- A Midsummer Night's Dream  - Henry Purcell

  • SURPRISE excerpt - audience participation!

  • Una Macchia (excerpt) - Macbeth - Giuseppe Verdi

  • Lady Macbeth - a scena - Joseph Horowitz

  • SURPRISE aria - audience participation!

  • I hate men - Kiss Me Kate - Cole Porter

  • Ah se tu dormi - Romeo e Giulietta - Nicolà Vaccai

  • J'ai versé le poison - Cleopatre - Jules Massenet

  • Dove mai riedo?... S'é ascolti - Amleto - Saverio Mercadante

  • The Compleat Works - Clea Laine & John Dankworth

Gráinne Gillis

Praised by the Observer as having a voice with 'rich, dramatic potential', Gráinne Gillis is an Irish-American contralto. She read Music at UCC and graduated from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.


In 2018/19 she sang Flora in the Olivier award-winning King’s Head Theatre’s production of La Traviata and opened the London Song Festival.  Other highlights included her one-woman show Mezzo Sings The Bard, Hélène in Faust et Hélène, the Old Woman in Candide and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.


In 2019/20 she made her Irish debut as Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance at Cork Opera House, and Vampyrmeister/Suse in Der Vampyr for Gothic Opera (Offie-nominated). COVID cancellations in 2020 included a national tour of Ireland with 'Sea Trilogy' as well as 1st Magd/cover Klytemnestra in Elektra. During the pandemic, Gráinne has been involved in a number of online projects including No Room No Room No Room for Opera Harmony, aired on Operavision,  'Last Party on Earth' on film and at Tête-à-Tête 2020, Bread and Circuses (Tête-à-Tête 2020), Random Opera’s Gianni Schicchi (Zita) and La Femme Lunatique’s Elizabeth Bishop project.

In 2022 Gráinne was back in her native Cork, working on a new opera called Morrigan at the Cork Opera House. She also narrated, co-composed and sang on a soundscape project, Utterances I, commemorating the women who founded the Irish Free State.

In 2023, Gráinne sang Schwertleite in the critically acclaimed 'Die Walküre' with Regent's Opera in London's West End. She will reprise this role in 2024 as part of the full Ring Cycle

In addition to her opera work, Gráinne is also an actress, voiceover artist and change maker. She has recently published an ebook called, 'The Guerrilla Guide to putting on a show' to encourage performers to become creators. Details can be found on her Linktree.  


The late Susan 'Su' Cullen began her professional career with English National Opera and a featured performance as Countess Ceprano in the award -winning Rigoletto, directed by Jonathan Miller.

  A freelance career took her all over the world. Operatic work was combined with appearances in London’s West End, TV and Radio.  Founder and Artistic Director of The Opera Express! she translated and adapted several operas to create workshop/performances for children throughout the UK. Shortly before her death in June 2023, she had formed Camaraderie,a performers' co-operative raising money for a variety of charities and balanced performing with a career as a voice coach, writer and director. She was my mentor and friend for almost a decade, and wrote The Contralto Cabaret for me, which I first performed in London in 2022. She was so proud of this show, and it will always have a special place in my heart because of the one and only, irreplaceable Su. 

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Panaretos Kyriatzidis

A Britten Pears young artist, Panaretos Kyriatzidis is in high demand as a collaborative performer, vocal coach and musical director. He has won the Gerald Moore Award, Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform, Emmy Destinn Awards accompanist prize and London Song Festival duo prize.


Panaretos (aka Pan) is the Musical Director of St Paul’s Opera and co-founder of The Opera Makers. He has performed extensively across the UK and abroad, has broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and has musically directed award-winning opera productions, one of which received an Olivier Award nomination.


A native of the Greek island of Thasos, Panaretos holds a BA in law and is an avid food lover. He is a member of staff at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and at Morley College.

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Kaine Hayward

Kaine Hayward is an Australian vocal coach who has sung as a lyric-spinto tenor with Opera Australia Touring and Outreach, Pacific Opera and Opera New England. He has toured and headlined shows worldwide, and is increasingly in demand internationally as a vocal coach and singing teacher because of his keen ear and deep interest in old-school belcanto. He is currently based in Germany. 

A few words: 

A show is a journey, a process, and there are so many people to thank thus far in my journey of creating and producing shows. If I forget anyone, I beg your indulgence:


I've now performed The Contralto Cabaret twice in Berlin. The bulk of the thanks for this coming to pass must go to Kaine Hayward, who also performed as Grigor Denisovich II with me, and Destynee Presents. 

At WAF2022, I have to thank WAF, the National Opera Studio, Morag McLaren, Dotty Lawrence, Panaretos Kyriatzidis, LVL/UP, Julie Balloo, Rosina Zoppi & Oper Im Knopfloch, John Roussety, all the friends who've cheered me on and supported me, and last, but by no means least, my dear friend and mentor, the late Susan 'Su' Cullen, who wrote The Contralto Cabaret based on an idea I had, made costumes and props and who unflaggingly believed in me. 

For the 2018 production: Provence Maydew, Lois Hadley, Leon Berger (who supplied Yorick), Neil Baker, Sarah Agha at Killer Showreels, and Indra & Louis Bhose who made my promo. 


As I continue creating, I'm so grateful for the support of Culture Ireland and the Irish Embassy in Berlin, and to the team at Engender at the ROH. 

Thank you all for your support and belief - it takes a village to create shows!

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