On the Couch with Sophie Salvesani

Sophie Salvesani AAR On the CouchWho is Sophie Salvesani?
I am a 24 year old coloratura soprano from Brisbane, Queensland. After graduating from high school I made the decision to study a Bachelor of Education (Primary) and receive private music tuition from my current teacher Douglas McRae instead of studying a tertiary music degree. So when I’m not singing I’m instead a primary school teacher across the Ipswich region and a fill-in learn to swim instructor.

I am often asked if given the chance if I would change that decision. My honest answer is no. Teaching is something I love and has surrounded me with a network of people who support me in following my dreams of pursuing a career in music. I consider myself to be a quiet, but dependable person. I am definitely not the life of the party, in fact I much prefer to be reading a book in bed, but you can always count on me to give something my all.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
There is not much that comes to mind when asked what I would do differently. I am genuinely pleased with how my career is progressing. When I was younger I didn’t really like dancing, I still enjoy sports much more. But after playing Christine in The Phantom of the Opera for my local theatre company in 2014, I developed an appreciation for ballet and really enjoyed the challenge it presented. This challenge was mostly just trying to be more delicate and refined, not so awkward and inelegant. I was horrified when the Ballet Mistress demonstrated what I looked like when I was ‘gracefully’ running off stage… in no way did I appear to be gracefully running off stage. I was reminded that this wasn’t a game of netball and it was fixed from that moment on. Maybe I wish I had been involved in dancing when I was younger, but I love my sport and it’s never too late to start.

Who inspires you and why?
I have never really been the type of person to look up to any celebrities, historical or political figures in society. I guess the person I have always looked up to most and been inspired by is my sister, Sarah. Much of what I did growing up was influenced by her actions and interests and is still today someone I go to for advice. In relation to musical inspiration, Kathleen Battle is my go-to. She has this effortless ability to maintain her beautiful vocal tone through the most challenging coloratura repertoire, something of which I aspire to.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
To me a big part of making a difference in the world comes from education. As well as a singer, I am also a qualified Primary School Teacher and AUSTSWIM Instructor. When not singing, I work as a relief teacher across the Ipswich region in Queensland and fill in as a learn to swim instructor for Debbie’s Learn to Swim where I worked while completing my teaching degree. If I were to make more of a difference in the world, I would aspire to position which allows me to share my knowledge and coach other teachers in methods of teaching, especially mathematics, for which I have a passion. It doesn’t seem like much, but big things start small, right?

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday destination would have to be New Zealand. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan, so when I visit, I try to fit in as much Lord of the Rings sight-seeing as I can. My most favourite would have to be the horse ride I took through Dart Valley and the surrounding forests, where filming took place for Isengard and the exact tree where Gandalf the Grey appeared as Gandalf the White.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
When friends come to visit, without fail I take them to the theme parks on the Gold Coast, especially Movie World if not all of them. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a kick out of seeing the fear in their eyes.

What are you currently reading?
It is unusual for me to read multiple books at a time, but I am currently reading When the Writ Hits the Fan? by Phil Dwyer and Phil Tripp, as well as Brothers Grimm The Complete Fairy Tales translated and annotated by Jack Zipes. Since I love to read and read so much, my preferences are quite broad from non-fiction (any topic really) to adventure, crime, poetry and the classics.

What are you currently listening to?
On a daily basis I listen to a range of music from opera, pop and musical theatre, really anything that I can sing along to. At the moment I find myself listening to Hey Sunshine by Sugarstarr featuring Alexander as I recently took up Jumping Fitness when visiting my sister in Denmark and this was my favourite song to jump to. I am also loving The Night We Met by Lord Huron and Jessie Mueller singing She Used to Be Mine by Sara Bareilles.

Happiness is?
Curled up on the lounge with my partner, Lyndon, eating popcorn.

What does the future hold for you?
This year I will be touring with Opera Australia and GWB Entertainment as Maria in their production of West Side Story. We’ll be heading to Melbourne, Wellington (NZ), Germany, Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide. Receiving the opportunity to sing in Germany, let alone in the Berlin Opera House has been a major goal for me over the past couple of years and I am beyond ecstatic that I will achieve that goal. Looking further ahead, I hope to eventually get a leg into the Australian opera scene, as I am passionate about opera singing and it would be another dream come true.

Sophie stars as Maria in Opera Australia and GWB Entertainment’s production of West Side Story – which plays at Arts Centre Melbourne from 6 April, before playing the Sydney Opera House from 16 August; Canberra Theatre Centre from 10 October; and the Adelaide Festival Centre from 28 November 2019. For more information, visit: www.westsidestory.com.au for details.

Image: Sophie Salvesani (supplied)