Who is Brian Castles-Onion?
I’m a Conductor with Opera Australia currently on the podium for the season of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – Carmen, and recent recipient of an AM in the Australia Day Honours!
What would you do differently to what you do now?
Opera is my life and I really can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s been my passion since the age of 4 and my focus has always been on ‘Opera’. Throughout school, I was like a child from another planet but my friends accepted me and knew that I’d eventually achieve my goal.
Who inspires you and why?
My biggest inspiration is my wife, Australian Music Theatre Star – Geraldine Turner. She encourages me to create the clarity and brilliance she brings to her own performances. I think the energy I have on the podium almost equals her powerhouse stage performances. Audiences respond to my musical ‘story telling’ and know that they’re experiencing something unique!
What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Obviously get rid of Donald Trump and his team … That’d be the initial quest. Secondly, I’d encourage children to experience the pleasures of opera. I ‘got the bug’ very early on and it grew into the most wonderful career. The Harbour production of Carmen is a perfect introduction for audiences of all ages. It’s my job to make it thrilling. The Opera Australia Orchestra make that much easier. I couldn’t wish for more wonderful colleagues.
Favourite holiday destination and why?
I love spending time in Venice, Italy, because there’s nowhere else like it in the world. Geraldine and I have special memories of our visits there with my musical guru, Randolph Mickelson, who lived in a palazzo on the bend of the Grand Canal. We also love recharging our energies in New York. There’s no place like it either.
When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Of course, they’d be my guests at Carmen. I’m proud of what we achieve theatrically and musically. It’s the cultural event of the year in Australia and audiences go wild with enthusiasm.
What are you currently reading?
The score of Carmen. I live and breathe whatever opera I’m conducting.
What are you currently listening to?
I’m listening to the new release from Désirée Records of the brilliant Australian soprano – Jenifer Eddy. She’s an inspiration – vocally and artistically. One learns much from performers from past generations.
Being at home with Geraldine and our two Groodles Pearl and Claude.
What does the future hold for you?
Fortunately, more podium work. My debut with State Opera of South Australia in August then a run of Madama Butterfly for Opera Australia in October. I’m so lucky to be doing what I love.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – Carmen runs 24 March – 23 April 2017. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.
Image: Brian Castles-Onion (supplied)