On the Couch with Joanna Cole

Joanna ColeWho is Joanna Cole?
Joanna Cole is an Australian Soprano who has performed regularly Nationally and Internationally and has earned a reputation for her technique, musicality and the power, sweetness and clarity of her voice.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I wouldn’t do anything differently, I love my life.

Who inspires you and why?
Probably over the years many people have inspired me however, for now, two people come to mind. The first is Tina Arena. I used to watch her on Young Talent Time when I was a young girl. I admire her strength, work ethic and artistry. Recently I watched her on Channel Seven’s Dancing with the Stars and she should have won but, she was knocked out in third place.

Of course she was disappointed as she had worked very hard and wanted to win but, her dignified exit where she thanked everyone and exited as a true lady, I so admire. That really took courage for her not to go to pieces in front of everyone. I’m not sure I could have kept my dignity after such an announcement. She was inspirational.

The second person I have always admired and been inspired by is swimmer Kieran Perkins. I will never forget the time during the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 when everyone was rubbishing him and said he was a loser. Kieran proved his critics wrong by showing them and claiming victory in the 1500m over the favorite, fellow Australian swimmer Daniel Kowalski.

Perkins despite being ill and swimming in lane 8, found the strength and courage to believe in himself and his talent to go on to win the race and claim gold for Australia. He let his talent do the talking and achieved for himself and his country what people thought impossible. Kieran was and is a real inspiration that I draw upon still today when the chips are down. His win gave us all pride in self and country and restored our hope in the possibility of going for gold every time.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I think music is an international language. As I have been blessed with a talent, I would continue to sing and hope that my gift brings happiness to all who heard my instrument. I also think smiling has disappeared from our lives. When I was little, everyone smiled at each other whether they knew each other or not. You would smile at your neighbour, at the lady behind the counter of the corner store, at the postie, the butcher etc and they would all smile back.

I noticed that Melbournians smiled a lot when I first visited this city some 25 years ago. It was much friendlier than other Australian cities. When I was visiting Myanmar a few years back, this is what I noticed most… everyone smiled at strangers and they didn’t expect anything in return. This is something I think is important. It is still ok to smile at strangers and not want or expect anything from it in return or be suspicious. It still happens in country towns, why not in the City? A smile costs nothing and may brighten someone else’s day. A smile could make a difference in everyone’s life!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I would have to say Italy and, more specifically Florence and Tuscany. I love the Italians, their food, culture, music, history, EVERYTHING Italian! In fact I think I have an Italian soul. I loved living there in mid 1990’s when I was on a Churchill Scholarship and, I would go back tomorrow if I could. Italy to me is like a constant holiday as they are pretty laid back especially when they have their afternoon nap and everything is closed!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Mmmm, I think it would be safe to say that most would want to experience a tram ride first so I would probably take them on the free circle tram that shows them most things in Melbourne and they can get on and off as much as they like. Trams are very unique to this City. As far as one attraction, it would be hard to signal out one place to show them. The Art Gallery, State library, Federation Square, Cathedrals and Museums.

Generally, I am really interested in history and so are my friends. Melbourne is full of cultural things to see and do and there is a lot to learn at these places about the history of this beautiful City and admire the local and International artworks. They are also free entry which is a bonus for any tourist! For the friends that like the outdoors, I would probably have to say I would take them for a picnic to the Dandenong Ranges or to St. Kilda for a walk or jog along the beachfront. Fish and chips on the waterfront are always a good option. If they weren’t afraid of heights I would take then to the Eureka Sky deck to see the view.

What are you currently reading?
My thesis is taking up most of my time for proof reading! It is almost finished, however, for a little light reading, I am between two books…Kerry Armstrong’s The Circles and, To Heaven and Back based on a true story, a doctor’s extraordinary account of her death, heaven, angels and life again by Mary C. Neal MD.

What are you currently listening to?
A CD which has just been released by a friend of mine, Bill Howe who is 90years old! Yes, he is 90!! The CD is called He lifted me. It is full of old inspirational songs and hymns like him and his life!

Happiness is?
Cuddling up on the couch at home with my husband and cats and watching a favourite movie. Also. I think spending time with family and friends as feeling loved and appreciated really makes one happy.

What does the future hold for you?
Anything is possible! All good things…a bit of travel and, lots of singing!

Joanna Cole is an Australian Soprano who has performed regularly Nationally and Internationally and has earned a reputation for her technique, musicality and the power, sweetness and clarity of her voice. Joanna brings to her performances a finely honed sense of dramatic skills and is in much demand for Opera, Recitals and Oratorio.

Her major operatic performances have included Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, Leila in Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, Micaela in Bizet’s Carme, and Iris in Handel’s Semele, Sophie in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Morgana in Handel’s Alcina, Lucia in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme, just to name a few. Joanna is also in demand as a soloist with all the major Australian symphony orchestras.

Joanna is a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and has been the recipient of many awards including the Remy Martin Opera Australia Award, Bull Fellowship, Marianne Mathy Australian Singing Competition, Joan Sutherland Society Scholarship, and was also granted a Churchill Fellowship for excellence in Bel Canto.

Joanna will appear in Richard Wagner’s Rienzi for Melbourne Opera on Sunday 8 December at The Athenaeum Theatre. For more information, visit www.melbourneopera.com for details.

Image: Joanna Cole