CLAIRE O’Brien, 43, a trained opera singer from Altrincham who has performed at prestigious venues such as the Barbican and sung worldwide with well-known choir, the Joyful Company of Singers, is to take part in a new musical drama, The Pieta.

It is composed and narrated by Stretford-born Shane Cullinan who persuaded Olivier nominated actress, Frances Barber, to speak the lead role of a grieving Manchester mother whose son has been mugged to death.

Claire said: “Frances’ character is very Northern and it was her idea to perform the piece in Manchester.

“Frances, the narrator, Cor Anglais soloist , Jessica Mogridge and myself as a soprano soloist all share the role of the grieving mother in differing ways. We are accompanied by Altrincham musicians in the Stamford Orchestra.

“It is easy to sing and very lyrical. You have to see the narrator as another instrument. Sometimes we perform simultaneously.

“Although it is sad, there are beautiful moments, too. Frances has not been musically trained so it is a massive challenge for her but she has succeeded.

“With her dying son in her arms, she has flash backs to happier times such as the day he was born and when he learnt to walk.”

Claire explains that this is where the link with Michaelangelo’s fifteenth century statue, Pieta comes in.

The emotions in his statue of the dead Christ in his mother’s arms links with the emotions of the Manchester mother who is in the same situation.

Claire, who attended St Bede’s Catholic College with Shane, said: “When he saw Michaelangelo’s statue at the Vatican, it had a profound effect on him and inspired him to write this work,” Claire said..

* The Pieta is at the Concert Hall, Royal Northern College of Music at 8 pm on Monday, October 16. Tickets from or telephone 0161 907 5555.