On the Couch with Nina Korbe

Opera Australian Nina KorbeWho is Nina Korbe?
Nina Korbe is a First Nations operatic soprano, soon to make her professional debut in the role of Maria in Opera Australia’s West Side Story.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’d make more time to get back into nature. I am never more peaceful than when I am in the ocean, the mountains, the bush. Being in nature and away from the noise of a city is immensely calming for me and while I’m getting better at making the time for this, is isn’t always easy to find.

Who inspires you and why?
My friends, my family, my peers and, if I’m truly honest with myself, the version of myself I want to be and strive to be every day. I keep a relatively intimate circle around me and care fiercely for those people. The people we choose to surround ourselves with are the ones we learn the most from, for better or for worse. I’m lucky to say in my case it is definitely for the better.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I have always known I wanted to be an advocate for First Nations Australians. Until last year however, I didn’t believe I had a space and a voice which was deserving of speaking on these issues. It has taken a lot of considered work and consultation with my Elders and community to get to the point where I am now, feeling truly comfortable in my position in this field. I am particularly passionate about working with and creating opportunities for Aboriginal children and will continue to use my voice, unique insight and work as a performer to do so.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Anywhere new. I love exploring new places and new cultures. Something we always did on family holidays was get up just after sunrise and explore the streets before the city was awake. There is something very special about watching an unfamiliar city come to life in the morning and finding its beautiful hidden places.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I would take them to my favourite places to eat! There are so many incredible places in Brisbane and I find revisiting memories and creating new ones is that much more special when sharing a meal. One restaurant which is always a special occasion reservation for me is Chu the Phat is Southbank – the duck buns are to die for!

What are you currently reading?
When I have the time, I will usually have a two books going at once. One for self improvement and one for fun. Currently my ‘fun’ book is King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist, a favourite author of mine.

What are you currently listening to?
I’m sure like many people, my music taste is broad to the point of whiplash if you were to put it all in the one playlist. My most frequent on rotation at the moment would be Maneskin, Hozier and AnnenMayKantereit.

Happiness is?
The little things. Coffee in the morning silence before anyone else is awake. Sunday breakfast and long chats at the farmers markets with my best friends. The feeling of a current when you are floating over a wave in the ocean. The slight warm sting of a stage light when you look out into the audience. My long distance partner reading me a chapter of my favourite book. An outfit coming together exactly how you pictured in your head. Sticky fingers from summer mangos and lycées.

What does the future hold for you?
I am looking forward to working and performing with many Australian companies and ensembles this year, including some for the first time. I am truly so inspired by the music I will be performing this year; some Ravel, Chausson, Mahler, Puccini and Bernstein. Such a beautiful tapestry and I’m excited to find out where this year will lead me.

Nina stars as Maria in Opera Australia’s production of West Side Story on Sydney Harbour – which plays at the Fleet Steps – Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney, from 22 March 2024. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Nina Korbe – courtesy of Opera Australia