It was such a pleasure to make some audition videos in LA recently with the editing and directing mastery of Adam Taylor and the camera and audio expertise of Mathew Welch. What an amazing team these two make. Do check out Adam’s award-winning films at Galaxy 454, including the terrific opera short film Rumspringawakening (starring mein liebes Schwesterlein Janet Todd), and the incredibly moving We Were Kids. Dean Sky-Lucas was my virtuosic and inimitable pianist for these recordings of Lensky’s aria from Eugene Onegin, the Shabby Peasant’s aria from Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District, and Frisch zum Kampfe from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
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Coming up in the new year, I’ll be singing Second Jew in Victorian Opera’s production of Richard Strauß’s Salome on February 21, 23 and 25 at the Palais. I sung the role previously in Hamburg and it was a rollicking good time. The Jews’ Quintet is terrific and intense moment in this stunning, epochal opera. I’m really excited to be sharing that moment with Carlos Barcenas and Tim Reynolds, dear friends who both were Vic Opera Developing Artist with me, as well as some other mates in Paul Biencourt and Raph Wong. Sometimes, I reckon being a musician is the best job in the world!
After that I’ll be flying back to the Hamburg Staatsoper to rehearse their stunning production of Marriage of Figaro, where I’ll be reprising the role of Don Curzio. Though we will rehearse in Hamburg, the performance will be in Shenzhen, China on March 21 and 22. Being able to combine Mozart, German beer and Cantonese food in a single trip is going to be more than a little exciting!
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The summer, Christmas and the year’s end in Australia encourage reflection in a way I did not experience living overseas. In Germany and China, this brief mid-winter hiatus was so busy that you barely had time to snatch a quick breath. But here, as I write in the cool of the morning before the approaching 40+ degree weather arrives, I’m thinking back on how 2019 was one of the most sad and beautiful years of my life.
As many of you might have heard, my wife Jess and I separated early in the year. We had a lot of wonderful and hilarious adventures together, living across several continents. Our marriage was full of music, laughter, good food and learning new languages. We supported each other through some very dark times and brought each other closer to our ambitions and goals. When I got my dream job at Hamburg State Opera, I also developed chronic fatigue. When we first moved over to Germany, Jess supported me magnificently as I alternated between working and sleeping. We ultimately thrived there, and I truly couldn’t have done it without her.
Not long after we moved to China, we were rocked by an unimaginable family tragedy. It was a shattering time, but Jess and I held fast together. Australian author Jessie Cole in her book Staying: A Memoir says that “grief time is like deep time - geological, with barely perceptible changes over many years.” This was our experience. And we patiently weathered storms of grieving, anger and sadness, while looking for the sunlight of hope and love peeking through the dark clouds. It was a hell of a journey, but we got each other through.
As the dust began to settle on that time, Jess and I were able to reflect as we approached the next stage of our lives. It became clear to us that we now wanted different things. We had grown and changed during our years together, and that growth had taken us in different directions. One of the fundamental building blocks of our relationship had always been a selfless desire for the happiness of the other. We realised that ultimately, we wouldn’t make each other happy in the long run. Our decision to separate was one of the most profound acts of love I have ever experienced.
Although it was a painful and difficult process, it was never acrimonious. We cared deeply for each other and continue to now. Through our cool-headed and compassionate decision, Jess and I have remained best friends. We treasure the years we had together as a married couple and hold no bitterness in our hearts. We understand that, through all our time together, we did our best and enriched each other’s lives enormously. I don’t think of this as a ‘failed marriage’. We were truly there for each ‘for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health’, building each other up and supporting each other. We have ultimately left each other as stronger, richer and more fulfilled human beings. I think that’s a really successful marriage.
As we approach the year's end, Jess and I have each found new relationships that have been exciting and healing. We feel so much joy in each other’s happiness, and in the knowledge that we will continue to be in each other’s lives, as good friends.