On the Couch with Michael Honeyman

Michael-Honeyman-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Michael Honeyman?
An ex-banker turned operatic baritone, I am a late starter to the performing arts. A journeyman trying to be a master of the craft. A gym rat, hiker, and since the pandemic an enthusiastic but not so successful gardener.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
It’s very easy to work so diligently on your craft that you can get stuck in a bubble. I would spend more time observing and studying other performing arts disciplines. Every time I get to work with a director/dancer/choreographer/actor/etc. I learn something new and feel my creative impulses firing.

Who inspires you and why?
Activists at the forefront of social and political change. Intellectuals who usefully deconstruct the ways social institutions shape us and limit us. I’m amazed at the energy of people willing to battle each day even under intense scrutiny and negativity.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I really should get involved in politics. Unfortunately, our system has produced too many career politicians when it needs more candidates with diverse backgrounds. I would try to bring more humanism and less cynicism to the world.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
The Larapinta Trail, West Macdonnell Ranges, Northern Territory. I adore Central Australia. The wide blue skies and the coloured soils remind me of the immense age of the land. Its vastness and stillness can remind you that you’re small but also connected to the world. I find it peaceful and rejuvenating.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I love to walk and Sydney’s harbour, beaches, and weather have so many attractions. Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Spit to Manly, or Bondi to Coogee. Or even the craft brewery tour of the inner west.

What are you currently reading?
I rarely read non-fiction but a colleague recommended To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins. Like many people, lockdowns and the devastation to the performing arts, has caused me to question the direction of my life and what I want it to be. It’s been a timely way to reflect on who we are and what makes us that way.

What are you currently listening to?
I’m putting together a song recital and listening to Szymanowski, Britten, Ethel Smyth, Poulenc, Barber, Menotti and Rorem. It’s great to be reminded of all the great music that’s not opera.

Happiness is?
A choice. A positive outlook. A perspective of the world, your place within it, and your experiences. A way of thinking that comes naturally to some but for most of us must be learned and practised. It’s also coming home after a long tour to my partner, my own bed and kitchen.

What does the future hold for you?
It’s so difficult to see into the future with the performing arts in recovery mode. I foresee many changes to the opera industry as we adapt to new expectations and realities. I hope to be adaptable to any new opportunities.

Michael stars as Sharpless in Opera Australia’s production of Madama Butterfly at the Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House from 29 June. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Michael Honeyman (supplied)