On the Couch with Daniel Sumegi

AAR OA Daniel SumegiWho is Daniel Sumegi?
Daniel Sumegi is a kid from Bondi, who dared to dream, found a path, and landed on the world’s opera stages. Still that kid 35 years later, he continues to live the dream based in New York City. I pinch myself all the time.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I wanted to be on stage since I was 5 years old, so I wouldn’t do anything differently, However, I wish I had received the memo when I was younger about not trying to fix the world around you, attempting to solve obvious problems. When you are perceived as a (young) smart-a*** people don’t appreciate it. My really good career may have been even better.

Who inspires you and why?
I am always inspired by people who strive for excellence, hurdling insurmountable odds, especially physically or mentally challenged people. It is even more moving when they succeed.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
All I feel I can really do is to lead by example, living a life of integrity, honesty and reliability to the best of my ability.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I don’t take many holidays, per-se, since I spend the majority of my life traveling for work. But if I have to nominate somewhere, my favourite holiday destination would be Hawaii, specifically Oahu: great beaches near a big city, and tropical paradise 10 minutes in any direction. While rehearsing the Ring Cycle in Brisbane, I was invited to spend a few days at a friend’s place at the Tamborine Mountain escarpment, near the Gold Coast. It might be my new favourite place, as I didn’t want to leave.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
There is an abundance of choice in New York City, so it will depend on my guest’s taste. Invariably, it will have a cultural basis, so whether it be theatre, museum, art galleries or food, NYC can’t be beaten. In nice weather, Central Park is a must, especially a walk around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

What are you currently reading?
I love biographies and non-fiction, especially about theatre and its history. This year I have read a number of books related to the progression of Broadway theaters, the producers who owned them, and the real-estate deals and shenanigans surrounding the entire district’s progression from inception to today. Fascinating.

What are you currently listening to?
Honestly, in that regard I am so boring. I am only listening to Wagner’s Ring Cycle, because you can never not be studying it, for its complexities, and just keeping the text fresh in your mind. However, I am also listening to Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, which is my next assignment at the Metropolitan Opera.

Happiness is?
A beautiful and peaceful home, a great partner, and contentment in the knowledge that you have truly attempted to do your best.

What does the future hold for you?
More of the same, please.

Daniel stars as Wotan and Wanderer in Opera Australia’s new production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre from 1 December 2023. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Daniel Sumegi (supplied)