On the Couch with Matthew Barclay

OA-Matthew-Barclay-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Matthew Barclay?
I’m a British born Sydneysider. I had a musical, singing childhood and chose classical ballet over algebra. I’m primarily an opera and music theatre director and have spent a lot of my life addicted to rehearsal studios and dark theatres while dreaming of the great outdoors.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
If I could rewind the master archival & replay… I’d learn earlier in life to be kinder to myself.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m a widower and was fortunate to be partnered with a true, generous and radiant soul who inspires me every day. Her name was Johanna and I’m motivated to learn from her example – like being non-judgemental, stopping to smell the roses, and making time to connect with people.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
If I had endlessly deep pockets… I’d fund free education in every corner of the globe. It’s hard to destroy something that you know well. Like the planet. Or other people.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Give me an ancient Greek or Roman amphitheatre over a banana lounge any day. I’ve spent most vacation time in Spain or Italy for the provincial beauty, art & culture, architecture & food. I’ve walked the entire Camino di Santiago in Northern Spain (700kms) and it’s exhilarating if you like the idea of a pilgrimage honouring the gods of nature, exercise, contemplation and tortilla.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I love the harbour beaches and my favourite is Camp Cove at Watson’s Bay. It’s picture perfect and seems like paradise to visitors. It’s also where the First Fleet landed and provokes a chat about Australia’s history. There’s no gigantic monument, just an unassuming, neglected stone plaque – you’d hardly know it was there.\

What are you currently reading?
Louis Nowra’s King Cross, A Biography, which I read appropriately late at night. I’ve just started Rosamund Lupton’s thriller Three Hours and it’s a ripper. For work, The Ring of Truth by Roger Scruton is a guidebook for the philosophical layers of Wagner’s Ring Cycle which I’ll be working on later in the year.

What are you currently listening to?
I latch onto music and not let it go, currently I’m floored by the Adagietto from Mahler No. 5, it’s achingly nostalgic and was used by Visconti in his film Death in Venice which I love. Anytime of the day or night it’s flamenco artists like José Mercé, Vicente Amigo, Monse Cortés and best of all, Buika. I enjoy a sing-a-long in the car and for that I turn to Robbie Williams Mr Bojangles, yes, really.

Happiness is?           
Gratitude. And the hit of satisfaction when a creative conundrum resolved.

What does the future hold for you?
This year, I’ll be artistic advisor to Sydney Catholic Schools, directing Opera Australia’s brand new production of Chorus!, part of the directing team of Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle, trekking in Japan, and sailing on Sydney Harbour whenever I can. Beyond that I’ve learned to accept that the future is a mystery.

Matthew is directing Opera Australia’s new production of Chorus! – which will be presented in the Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House: 4 February – 10 March 2023. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Matthew Barclay (supplied)