The opera singer Rhydian needs little introduction.
After seeing him in The Rocky Horror Show, there was much to discuss.
When did you first start singing and where did your love of music come from?
My love of music came from my mother. She played piano, guitar, sung in a folk group and she used to sing me to sleep. In Wales, I competed in the Eisteddfod from the age of four and was quite successful. I was a boy soprano from the ages of four to nine, then I stopped singing. I let the voice break and then I started professional lessons when I was fourteen.
Which musician influences you the most?
That’s a good question. Mozart would be one that covers all grounds, because he was a great musician, great composer. Modern day musician? I like Freddy Mercury. I think he was a talent. Great writer, great showman and good singer. Tina Turner, CÃ©line Dion, Freddy Mercury and Mozart. There’s a mix for you!
Which are your favourite aria, opera and symphony?
What’s my favourite aria? That’s a good question. Iâ€¦ oh, let me just think of that. I like the Liebestod from Tristan Und Isolde, the finale. The opera that inspired me to become a performer was The Pearl Fishers by Bizet. I like La BohÃ¨me. Carmen, I’ve been in Carmen.
Who did you play in Carmen?
Professionally I was MoralÃ¨s, because I was only a youngster at the time. So I was one of the soldiers at the start.
As for a symphony, I can’t think apart from the real popular ones. I mean, I appreciate the music that I like and works. I’m more into choral stuff like FaurÃ©’s Requiem for example.
What advice would you give to young opera singers today?
Be patient. Don’t drive too early. Don’t sing things that are above your means. It takes time for the voice to develop. So many young singers are trying to sound like Bryn Terfal. Bryn is established and is in his mid-forties. These youngsters who are in their teenager years or early twenties - they've got lots of time. I’d say get the right tuition; get a teacher that you trust, who has a good roster of singers. Sing properly with proper technique and don’t drive the voice that’s my advice.
Do you have and health and fitness advice?
My advice is don’t skip meals. I eat a proper breakfast, lunch and diner, but I snack on good things. It’s important to in-between meals. I have fruit, rather than chocolate. I think it’s important: if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you don’t have to eat chocolate. What I do is I eat the chocolate with the meal. So if I have diner, I have my chocolate during the meal, or just at the end. So your body thinks its part of the meal. Otherwise if you eat it as a snack, your body starts thinking the amount of fat in that is another meal. So essentially you’re eating four, five meals a day.
That’s my advice and you’ve got to do the cardio. I do a lot of cardio. I train six days a week. I run five miles a day. That's my secret. You've got to get the heart rate up. A lot of people think low intensity is the way forward, it’s not actually. High intensity is better. In short get your heart rate up at least three times a week. I get it up six times a weekâ€¦ so to speak!
So the gym is quite important, no?
It is for me anyway; I used to be a sportsman. I played a lot of rugby. I like the gym but when I’m in Rocky it’s a pre-requisite, I have to. I have to be a muscle man. After I speak to you I’ll be going to the gym.
How do you handle the heckling during the show?
It's funny. I love it. The more the merrier. We expect it. In rehearsals we’re trained to receive the heckles. It's nice when get the odd, unusual one. Most of the time, it's one we know from the hardcore fans. It’s a show like no other. It's completely different. The audience is as big a part of the show as we are. We get a bit thrown if nobody shouts out. If there’s silence in the audience we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
What’s the funniest mistake you’ve ever made onstage?
We’ve had quite a few corpses on stage. We crack up quite a lot - given the nature of this show. I'm pretty good at remembering my words. I haven’t made that many mistakes so far. I think I’ve gone off the wrong side of the stage a few times. In Rocky Horror, I spin round in a revolving truck and a couple of times that hasn't spun round. So a couple of times, I haven’t been seen at the start of my entrance because it's on a revolver as it's jammed. I'm happy to say there haven’t been huge mistakes yet.
What would your dream vacation be and why?
Maybe Moorea? Off the island of Tahiti. It's unspoilt, beautiful, exclusive. I like also the Seychelles. That’s nice. There are a lot of beautiful places around the world. I spend a lot of time in the Caribbean as well. But I say Moorea!
Have you have a favourite restaurant in Cardiff?
There's so many! I like Giovanni's. He's been a character (hasn’t he just!) and he's supported my career. He's been a big fan of mine. There's a place that I really like down by the Bay. I think it's on the Penarth side. What's it called?
[He pauses] You see all your food there raw and they cook it for you.
Is that El Puerto, the one in Penarth?
It's on the Penarth side. Something house?
What, the Custom House?
Yes, the Custom House!
Yeah, that’s El Puerto! (Glad we got that out of the way...)
Finally, looking back after The X-Factor, how do you perceive the last few years? How have you coped with fame?
I think I've coped with fame pretty well. After that show, you need to have a slice of reality. You’re put in a bubble for twelve, thirteen weeks. It's not real. The secret is to not to try to sustain fame. The secret is to try and sustain respect and quality in what you do and that's what I tell myself. I have a voice that I work on and I train very hard. Hopefully, people book me know because I can turn it in, I can do the job. A lot of celebrities just seek the fame aspect and you're never going to be satisfied with that. It's a long life we're leading. I think I've coped with it pretty well. It has its perks as well, which is nice.
Thanks for your time. Rocky Horror was a hoot!
- Review: The Rocky Horror Show @ New Theatre
- One Man, Two Guvnors Interview: Owain Arthur
- Interview: Annie Dressner