On the Couch with Deborah Humble

Deborah Humble AAR On the CouchWho is Deborah Humble?
Operatic mezzo-soprano currently performing the roles of Fricka and Waltraute in Opera Australia’s new production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle in Brisbane. Lover of food, wine, photography, tennis, sailing and hiking. Permanently plagued by Wanderlust.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Honestly, I wouldn’t do much differently. I’m still enjoying the career I chose when I was a young girl, still learning, still growing as an artist. I am grateful to have lived in five different countries, studied three languages and been in the position to follow my passion. Of course we all have bad days at the ‘office,’ and at those times we think ‘I should have done this or that instead.’ Nonetheless, at the end of my life I know I will be grateful to have had this life in music.

Who inspires you and why?
I find all kinds of people inspiring for different reasons. Mostly I admire those who work hard and follow their dreams, who have strength of character and discipline. I admire people who are generous and kind and who stand up for others. I’m inspired by those with tenacity who keep trying in the face of challenging circumstances or adversity. I recently watched a short documentary called Blind Ambition about four Zimbabwean men who dreamed of becoming sommeliers. It is such an uplifting story. With no previous experience, and from impoverished backgrounds, these men trained and studied and eventually went to France and won the World Tasting Championships. It brought a tear to my eye to see their unfettered joy at success. That’s resilience. That’s inspiring.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
As I get older I think about this more and more. I think it’s our responsibility to pass our knowledge on to the next generation. I’ve been privileged to be trained and nurtured by some of the best in the business. Now it’s my turn to pass on what I’ve learned through education and mentorship.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Always the places I’m travelling to next. Usually somewhere off the beaten track, where I can experience something unique and connect with people from a completely different culture and way of life. In a few weeks time, I will be travelling through Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has only been open to tourists since 2019. It’s invigorating to anticipate exploring a place so few have ever seen.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I usually take overseas visitors out on Sydney Harbour. It’s lovely to sail them under the Harbour Bridge and see the Opera House and the cityscape from a different perspective. It’s always a ‘wow’ moment for them. If time permits I drive them to the Hunter Valley, show them some of the best wineries in the area, and then cook a meal for them at home in Lovedale. I really enjoy having friends around the kitchen table, catching up, exchanging stories and enjoying food and wine together.

What are you currently reading?
I always like to read about the countries I’m going to visit in order to gain as much insight as possible into the culture, politics, history and day-to-day life of a place. I’m currently reading Black Wave by author and journalist Kim Ghattas. It’s crafted like a thriller and combines research, reporting and storytelling to explore the geopolitical rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

What are you currently listening to?
Nothing. Silence is golden after hours of music making.

Happiness is?
Not a state we should expect to experience all the time. It’s doing something that fulfils you and gives you purpose. It sometimes appears in the smallest of things or moments: a child’s laugh, a word of gratitude, a particularly beautiful sunset, a moment of peace and tranquillity, coming home. It should never be taken for granted when it arrives.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m a meticulous planner and organiser and I like to think I know what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. But of course none of us know and that’s really one of the most exciting, and sometimes frightening things about life. There’s always the possibility of a better, or worse tomorrow. And that’s why we have to live in the present and make the most of everything we have right now.

Deborah stars as Fricka and Waltraute 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: Deborah Humble (supplied)