On the Couch with Olivia Cranwell

Victorian Opera The Princess and the Pea Olivia Cranwell - photo by Charlie KinrossWho is Olivia Cranwell?
Outside the theatre I’m a daughter, sister, Brisbane Lions supporter, avid backyard gardener and wannabe master chef. In the theatre most recently I’ve been a Countess, a Valkyrie, a Parisian bohemian seamstress and at the moment I am spending my days being a Princess.

What would you do differently to what you do now? 
For fear of sounding naff I can honestly say I am doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. Although it is challenging and I sometimes have a love hate relationship with the job I know, with all honesty, I would never be happy doing anything else. I never take for granted that I am an employed Australian opera singer making a living from performing with companies all over Australia in my home country. That being said I have a huge interest in further developing children’s interest in opera and when my performing days are behind me I would love to invest my time in ensuring opera and classical singing is a part of school curriculum as musicals and Saturday morning sport. As people we spend a huge amount of our lives working and I firmly believe if you don’t enjoy what you do try to find a way to change it and at this stage I’m more than happy where I am.

Who inspires you and why?
My deceased grandmother continues to still inspire me and I seem to find her a greater source of inspiration as I get older. As a British nurse in her twenties she met the man who would become her husband (an Australian dentist for the air force) in London during the war. After he was shipped back to Australia my grandmother promptly boarded a ship and set sail to the other side of the world to be with the man she loved leaving behind her family and her homeland to embark on an unknown adventure and life. This strength in herself and her conviction carried her throughout the rest of her life as she was a woman who knew what she stood for, believed wholly in herself, her beliefs and lived each day with uncompromising pragmatism. If I can lead a life with half of her determination and courage I will be hugely satisfied.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
The thing that irks me most in the world and in society in general is intolerance. Be it for sex, race, religion, every person has a different viewpoint ad interpretation on life and how it should be lead. I believe everyone is entitled to lead the life they want to, how they want to provided it doesn’t hurt anyone else. If we could all just be a little less focused on how other people lead their lives and a little more focused on being the best version of ourselves and conceded about how we live our own lives then I think the world may turn a little more smoothly. So all I can hope to do to make a difference is lead by example and live without judgement.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many places both in Australia and across the world but nowhere makes me happier, rejuvenates me more and generally makes me feel like I’ve been on a holiday than Port Douglas in Far North Queensland. My perfect holiday would look like: wake up in the morning, go for a walk along the beach followed by a swim, the day spent reading under a palm tree, seafood and cocktails for dinner, sleep and repeat!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’m a strong believer that people don’t come to Melbourne to be tourists, rather you come here to live like a local. Therefore I essentially like to treat visiting friends to what I consider the perfect Melbourne day starting with a walk around ‘The Tan’ (The Royal Botanical Gardens) followed by a coffee and perhaps croissant at L’entrecote cafe in South Yarra. A trip to Melbourne isn’t complete without a good browse through the shops in the city and a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria and then finish the day with a pasta and prosciutto board at D.O.C. Espresso in Lygon Street and maybe a live show at the Arts Centre. If that fails a trip down the peninsula to Flinders is always a winner.

What are you currently reading?
I love stories with vivid characters and with the amount of travel and commuting I do I get the chance to read a couple of chapters a day. I’ve just finished The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman and cried my way through most of it and now moved onto the Matthew Reilly books for a complete change of pace. My Kindle has been one of the best investments I’ve made, I have hundreds of books on there and I no longer have to use a huge portion of my luggage allowance carting my reading books as well as my scores across the country.

What are you currently listening to? 
My boyfriend and I travelled to the US last year and inadvertently found we had made an itinerary that travelled the various music trails of America through Texas, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. Since then we’re a little obsessed with playing the likes of Elvis, Johnny Cash and the big brass bands of New Orleans on our record player.

Happiness is? 
Loving what you do, being with who you love, a sunny beach and maybe a margarita.

What does the future hold for you?
I will be touring regional Australia for most of the rest of 2017 with both Opera Australia and Victorian Opera. And in the long term? Who knows? That’s the beauty of this job, every year is varied and no year is the same!

Olivia will be appearing in Victorian Opera’s production of The Princess and the Pea at Arts Centre Melbourne for three performances on Saturday 25 March 2017. For more information, visit: www.victorianopera.com.au for details.

Image: Olivia Cranwell – photo by Charlie Kinross