On the Couch with Warwick Fyfe

Warwick-Fyfe-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Warwick Fyfe?
I’m a permanently (and increasingly) bewildered anachronism who is an opera singer by profession but a novelist by inclination. Don’t get me wrong – I ADORE being a singer when it’s going well but temperamentally I’m perhaps better suited to studious, solitary pursuits of a less high-wire nature. I have a first draft of a novel completed but revision is taking time.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I find the wording of this question somewhat ambiguous but if you mean what would I willingly do for a career were I not an opera singer, my current joke is to tell people that my true vocation is to be retired. Unfortunately I can’t afford that. What I’d really like is to have a scruffy little place down the coast, deliberately chosen to create the illusion that the 1970s had never ended, where I would write, then, when I’d done my quota of words for the day, I’d go for walks down beaches such as Casey’s Beach, Broulee and Moruya Heads, and eat fish and chips from Berny’s at Batehaven. That’s all I want. (As I’m a hoarder, I’d probably need a rambling second property for all my stuff.) But if a latter day King Ludwig II would overlook my lack of talent and fund a simple life of the sort above described with enough cash for my medication, I’d make no further demands on life or the world.

Who inspires you and why?
Winston Churchill. He was the greatest man of the twentieth century and possibly of the millennium. Not only is the scale of Churchill’s achievement titanic, his greatness of soul is unequalled. He never, never, never gave up.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I wouldn’t do anything because I know from a lifetime’s experience that no one takes any notice of anything I say. If by an accident of birth or as a result of some freakish series of events I’d been someone to whom people attended when he spoke on profound matters of world-historical import, I’d still, as things stand, have needed a time machine to have had any hope of stopping society heading off down the various disastrous paths on which it is currently embarked and even then I’d almost certainly have failed. People have a steely determination not to learn from history. Consider this: Christopher Hitchens was one of the finest minds we’ve ever had and he was amongst the most famous public intellectuals of recent decades. But did all of those words spilling from his mouth and committed to print change very much in terms of how events played out? I think not. He helped those of us who read and listened to him think more clearly and there’s a value in that. But I doubt he affected the way events played themselves out very much.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Batehaven. Other places (at random) where I have known happiness: London, Scarborough, Skipton and Morcambe in the UK, Munich and Berlin in Germany, Helsinki in Finland, Palmerston North and Wellington in New Zealand. I’ll stop there. There are many places I’d love to have seen but never got to such as the north face of the Eiger.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Usually the Blue Mountains for the views. We show them the Three Sisters and Govetts Leap and other places. We live in the western suburbs and I always avoid driving towards the city if at all possible. It’s just too stressful.

What are you currently reading?
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.

What are you currently listening to?
A 50 CD boxed set called The Decca Sound.

Happiness is?
Crunchy juicy pork crackling with a thin layer of meat adhering to the underside hot out of the oven and a 15 DVD set of the complete Rumpole of the Bailey to be watched in the company of my wife.

What does the future hold for you?
Uncertainty and then death, but that’s the common lot. For me there are also pervasive feelings of frustration, anger and powerlessness when I look out on the world – which is for my taste not a patch on the one I grew up in (at least as regards Australia). However, I’m very much looking forward to The Ring for Opera Australia in Brisbane in 2023. Before that Lohengrin in Melbourne in 2022. I have a couple of gigs (of which I may not speak) scheduled for next year but who knows how much of any of it will actually happen given that the world has gone stark raving mad, seemingly irrevocably?

Warwick stars as the Herald in Opera Australia’s production of Lohengrin in the State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne from 14 – 24 May. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Warwick Fyfe – courtesy of Opera Australia