On the Couch with Giuseppina Grech

Giuseppina Grech AAR On the CouchWho is Giuseppina Grech?
I am an Australian-Italian soprano raised in the vibrant city of Melbourne. My name holds a special significance, as it pays homage to my beautiful nonna (grandma), a connection to my Italian roots and family values that I deeply cherish.

Coming from an Italian family I was introduced to Neapolitan music from a young age and would often listen to classical music and opera at my grandparents’ house. My nonno (grandfather) had a huge appreciation for Italian opera, in fact he would wake up each morning to Puccini’s Madama Butterfly as his alarm ringtone.

I knew from a very young age that following a path in music was what I was destined to do. At age 6, my classroom teacher asked each student to write down a response to the following question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Our answers were then placed in an envelope and provided to our parents with the instruction of them giving it to their child at graduation or their 18th birthday.

I can remember vividly when my parents provided me with this envelope on graduation night. My 6-year-old self had written, “when I grow up, I want to be an opera singer!”. How crazy is that! The rest is history really, and I feel extremely humbled to be following my childhood dream.

My formal music training began at The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, followed by cementing the foundation of my skills at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. In my final year at University, I was awarded the Italian Acclaim Opera Fellowship, which provided the opportunity to further my studies at La Scala’s Teatro Accademia alla Scala in Milan under the guidance of the renowned international soprano, Luciana Serra.

I made my European debut as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at Teatro Moriconi in Ieri. This marked the beginning of my European engagements, particularly in Italy and Austria. Upon returning to Australia, I moved to Sydney to sing with Opera Australia in both mainstage and touring productions.

I have a deep appreciation for all forms of music and love performing in a variety of genres from opera, musicals, and classical crossover. I recently starred in Opera Australia’s touring production of The Phantom of the Opera as the Italian Opera Prima Donna, Carlotta Guidicelli, which has been one of my professional highlights to date.

I now reside back in Melbourne, to be closer with my family. I recently got married to my amazing and loving husband, Ash and we are currently on the hunt to purchase a new home.

Beyond the stage, I am known for my vibrant and bubbly personality, always looking on the bright side of life. I am extremely close with my family and feel blessed to be surrounded by so many beautiful people in my life who support and cheerlead me through life.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I wouldn’t change a thing! I genuinely cherish the life I’m living, the wonderful people surrounding me, and the valuable lessons acquired on this journey. If I were to consider one adjustment, I regret not heeding my parents’ advice to dedicate more time to practicing the piano during my younger years.

Who inspires you and why?
My incredible nonna, Angelina, is my constant inspiration. Many aspects of who I am today stem from the invaluable lessons she imparted. She instilled in me the importance of embracing compassion, staying true to my authentic self, pursuing my aspirations wholeheartedly, embodying sincerity, putting in hard work, and persisting in the face of challenges.

Her influence has not only shaped my values but also the way I navigate life. Additionally, she underscored the significance of family, reinforcing the idea that the support and love of family members are pillars that uphold and enrich our journeys. For that, I am profoundly grateful to have had such a remarkable role model in my life. I miss her dearly!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Inspired by the rich culture of Europe, where classical music is deeply ingrained, I hope that Australia goes down a similar path. The vision to emulate the European model, where classical music is seamlessly woven into the cultural fabric. I would champion initiatives that foster and encourage particularly the younger generation for a deeper appreciation for opera and classical music.

Having done two years touring Victoria and New South Wales in Opera Australia’s schools touring productions, I have seen first-hand how engaged and intrigued young children are when seeing an opera for the first time. We need to implement more educational programs like this to cultivate an environment where classical music becomes an integral part of Australia’s cultural identity. I hope to witness a transformation in Australia, where classical music is cherished and celebrated as a fundamental aspect of our cultural heritage.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Without a doubt, my favourite holiday destination is Italy – there’s something inherently magical about reconnecting with my heritage. The picturesque landscapes, rich history, music, and of course the amazing food and wine!

However, I firmly believe that the true essence of a favourite holiday destination lies not just in the geographical beauty but in the people with whom you share those moments. The connections, the laughter, and the shared experiences are what elevate any destination to a cherished memory.

So, while Italy is undeniably my top pick for its cultural significance, the true magic of a favourite holiday destination is the irreplaceable moments shared with the people who make it extraordinary.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Undoubtedly, the go-to attraction is none other than my own home. I have an absolute passion for hosting and cooking (well, I’m Italian, after all), and there’s nothing quite like the joy of creating a welcoming space where friends can gather, kick back, and enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal.

It’s about the shared laughter, the easy camaraderie, and the genuine connections that come to life in the comfort of my home are what truly makes it special. It’s like taking a page from the wise words of a good Italian upbringing: “Why spend your money out for dinner when you can cook at home?”

What are you currently reading?
While others soak up the summer sun at various hotspots, you’ll likely find me on a beach, sun-baking, and engrossed in the study of a music score. Presently, I’m immersed in the exploration and analysis of Mozart’s The Magic Flute in preparation for my upcoming role debut as the Queen of the Night. Embracing my inner music nerd, I find solace and passion in delving deep into the intricacies of the score, making the most of my summer in a unique and musically enriching way.

What are you currently listening to?
Honestly, my musical tastes span a diverse spectrum, ranging from the world of opera to the energetic beats of hip-hop. Lately, I have been captivated by the harmonies and music arrangements of the a cappella vocal group ‘Pentatonix.’ This group is currently my musical obsession and my go-to playlist on Spotify.

Happiness is?
Happiness, to me, is the culmination of moments spent in the company of my incredible husband and surrounded by the love of my beautiful family and friends. The most profound gift life can offer is the experience of genuine love – having the freedom to live each day on one’s own terms, to make choices each morning and night, and to encircle oneself with individuals who wholeheartedly appreciate and accept one for their authentic self. Whilst I believe that true happiness stems from within, there is a unique and enriching dimension to experiencing life’s journey with those you cherish the most.

What does the future hold for you?
I am currently in rehearsals preparing for my role debut as the Queen of the Night (a truly pinch me moment) in The Magic Flute with Opera Australia. I am beyond thrilled and honoured to be singing such an iconic role at the Sydney Opera House this summer season. Additionally, this year I will be touring nationally as the special guest soprano alongside The Australian Tenors. I am excited for the year ahead, and thrilled to see what the future brings.

Giuseppina stars as the Queen of the Night in Opera Australia’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute – which will be presented in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House from 1 February – 16 March 2024. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Giuseppina Grech – courtesy of Opera Australia