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Transcript: Character building with Lily Balatincz and Rahel Romahn

Episode 5: Character building with Lily Balatincz and Rahel Romahn

Courtney Ammenhauser: The Sydney Opera House acknowledges the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, traditional custodians of Tubowgule, the land on which the Opera House stands. We honour the long Gadigal history of gathering and storytelling, and acknowledge the strength and resilience of First Nations people and communities past and present.

Rahel Romahn: We're talking about one of the greatest theatre actors alive. We're filled with so much humility, you know, I felt like just a general tennis player. And then you're throwing me on the court with, you know, Novak Djokovic or Federer or even a Serena Williams or what have you. And all of a sudden it kicks in. Hold on a second. I've gone from a training/practise person to someone on the court with the highest level. And so, of course, there's a level of nerves, but a level of excitement too.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Hey I’m Courtney Ammenhauser and this is Up Next, your ticket to the most exciting artists and performers coming through the Sydney Opera House doors. Join me backstage as we chat to a spectacular lineup of artists who are making waves on one of the most iconic stages in the world. Together we’ll uncover who’s up next, and how this moment in time is transforming the next 50 years of arts and culture.

In 1998, the celebrated British theatre actor Michael Sheen took on the role of young Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus. The show is about a fictitious rivalry between real-life composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Now, more than 20 years later, Michael Sheen is returning to Amadeus, but this time in a different role. He’s back as Salieri, in an Australian run of the play, opening in December. Stepping into his old shoes is one of Australia’s most exciting up and coming theatre actors. Rahel Romahn, will be taking on the character of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, opposite the incredible Lily Balatincz in the role of Constanze Mozart.

You might recognise Rahel from SBS’s The Principal or the 2021 film Here Out West, plus a number of roles for the Sydney Theatre Company. Lily has an impressive CV of US theatre parts, awards and has recently planted her feet as a director of Australian theatre, including the recent hit Bad Machine for the Campbelltown Arts Centre. I’m lucky enough to be joined by both of them today, to chat about their surprising connections to their characters, their careers and who they think is up next in Australia.    

Rahel Romahn: Hey, my name is Rahel Romahn. I'm playing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

Lily Balatincz: I'm Lily Balatincz, and I'm playing Constanze Mozart in the Sydney Opera House production of Amadeus.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Welcome to you both here on beautiful Gadigal Land of the Eora Nation. One thing we love doing on this show is asking people about the first time they've performed at the Opera House. And Lily, this show is not your first time on this stage.

Lily Balatincz: It is not, Courtney, I actually was first on this stage in high school. I was in the New South Wales State Drama Company and we were as part of that, given the opportunity to. compere events at the Opera House in the concert hall. COMPERE C-o-m-p-not…

Courtney Ammenhauser: The hosting kind. 

Lily Balatincz: Yeah, exactly. I wasn't comparing different events, but I would be on stage presenting each of the pieces by the state orchestral company in front of two and a half thousand people, probably starting when I was about 14. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Wow. 

Lily Balatincz: We got given a bit of a budget to buy a fancy dress and oh yeah, we were in black tie. It was very fancy.

Courtney Ammenhauser: It's very sophisticated.

Lily Balatincz: It was very sophisticated. And we were I think we were a little we were a little sort of jump in the deep end hosting something of that scale. But yeah, that was my first time on that stage, looking out at the beautiful space.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Rah, that was Lily's first story about being in the concert hall. 

Rahel Romahn: Yes. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Can you tell me about yours?

Rahel Romahn: Well, I've never been in the concert hall. I have never even stepped into the concert hall. So this is very exciting for me to be able to smell it and feel the temperature and be able to walk around and exist in that realm. I have however performed at the Drama Theatre, in the Sydney Theatre Company’s Midsummer Night's Dream, which Kipp Williams the now Artistic Director was amazing enough to grant me that opportunity. I played the very very small role of Snug the joiner and a fairy. Now Snug the joiner, is one of the mechanicals in Midsummer Night's Dream one of the play actors. And yeah, it was a really fun time. It was a great way for me to learn about how the theatre works. Yeah that was my first time. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Rahel, can you tell me about the first time you discovered your passion for acting as a child?

Rahel Romahn: Yes, when I was younger, I was extremely isolated and bullied and I found the mirror as a form of escapism. I would sit in front of the mirror for hours because I was quite isolated from family and friends and I would use the mirror. I would do different accents and voices and faces, and I would exist within the realms of the many different dimensions that I could have possibly been born in, so that I could bear the weight of existence. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah. wow.

Rahel Romahn: I found an enjoyment in that escapism. You know, I didn't feel as though I was shackled to my my physical being. I was able to explore spiritually what it was to be other people than other people's adversities and vicissitudes that they faced. And I found that an adventure. So, yeah, once I discovered that form of of artistry, I very much plunged into the depths of what that was. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah, A number of your roles Rah, like the principal and hear out west are set in western Sydney and you grew up in Parramatta. How did you bring your connection to Western Sydney to these roles?

Rahel Romahn: I came here when I was three and a half years of age as a refugee from Kurdistan escaping Saddam Hussein's genocide and grew up pretty much in the Parramatta region. And I grew up in a particular environment of multiculturalism and an amalgam of different ideas and thoughts, but kind of in a, in a peaceful, tranquil existence. I feel as though I mean, I'm a pretty out there kind of person. I feel as though the soul and the physical vessel are two separate things. And this physical vessel, which to the outer world is a middle Eastern, young, Middle Eastern guy who looks a particular way is the vehicle that I've been given to drive. And within that vessel, I've experienced particular things in a particular way. And the roles that I get very much in line with that. And when I get the principal or hear out West or any of the other multiple roles that I've played in the same world of a young Middle Eastern character who's usually angry, misunderstood, you know, confused, which, you know, is quite I like I like playing those those kind of feelings, whatever the culture may be. I was able to bring that level of history and experience to those roles and attempt to find very subtle, you know, differences between those roles. So that whenever I played those roles, they wouldn't always come out the same. So you wouldn't watch any role that I play twice and go, wow, he's literally playing the same role. No, each of these people as as similar as they may seem to the to the outside are very nuanced and complex and different individuals. And I was keen to shape that sort of difference. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: And how important to you are those characters and those portrayals?

Rahel Romahn: Very important because there are, there are people of my descent out there that feel absolutely alone and scared and worried and isolated the same things I felt when I was young. And I want to be able to show them as a different way of exploring those. There are multiple ways of expression to be able to, to showcase your inner vulnerabilities without being afraid of the judgement that comes along with it.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Lily, you got your big break in New York City. How did you end up living over there and, you know, living every actor's dream?

Lily Balatincz: Oh, gosh. So it, I was actually I did an undergrad degree in film, but I just couldn't quite shake this, this desire to be a performer that I'd had from when I was about three years old. I started out as a dancer, and then I moved to poetry recitation and first speaking training when I was five and I auditioned one last time for NIDA was not successful and on a bit of a whim decided to apply to Juilliard and booked an airfare. Really spur of the moment and then found myself in New York auditioning for Juilliard and NYU. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Wow. 

Lily Balatincz: I got through the call-backs, but I didn't get into Juilliard, which in the end I think was the right thing because different programmes have a different sort of energy to them. And I think I suited NYU. I ended up being taken by the hand by the person who I was auditioning for, for the undergrad programme, and she said, I think you need to go to the grad programme, which I didn't even know existed. And I got a call-back and I got offered a place, one of 16 people out of about a thousand auditioning.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Wow. 

Lily Balatincz: So it was yeah, it was a bit of a surreal moment and that was how I ended up on the other side of the world, not knowing anyone.

Courtney Ammenhauser: After you left New York, you moved away from acting and into directing, and you brought some very Australian stories like Bad Machine to life. What was that change like?

Lily Balatincz: So before I moved into directing, I was producing a bit of a it was a journey, I guess from I was heading up the performance programme at Campbelltown Arts Centre for a few years. That was a really great experience in and of itself because it was, it's a great organisation, it only commissions new work, it doesn't do any buy-ins. So it was learning about sort of different parts of the performance world than I had ever been exposed to before, such as contemporary performance, contemporary dance, performance art, even. So that sort of led to, as a producer, I commissioned a new play, Bad Machine, which was me transitioning across to directing. It's a new Australian play by an incredible young Australian playwright named Brook Robinson, who's from Campbelltown. She's based out of London primarily, and it's exploring the topic of the robo debt crisis. She and I came together. She's worked mostly in London, I've worked mostly in New York. And we had this sort of impassioned discussion about, you know, if we were in London and if we were in New York, there's no way we'd be able to make the first art work about this topic because there'd be seven existing plays. And we found it sort of bewildering that there was no art form actually, that had been exploring it as yet. So we kind of jumped in and made a work that was looking at the human impact of these large scale, high level government decisions and the very real effects that they have on people just like you or me. One of the things that was instilled in us at NYU was that you're not just an artist, you're an artist citizen. And yeah, I'm really proud to have been a part of the creation of New Australian theatre, but also making a work that gives a voice to people who otherwise maybe don't get much of a platform. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Nice well, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Bad Machine for sure. Rahel, can you tell me a bit about the behind the scenes of Amadeus? I'm keen to hear about how it felt when you got the part. 

Rahel Romahn: My agents told me that this particular production of Red Line and Opera House had been searching for four months to find the actor or performer to be able to bring to life Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. And I was quite interested. I mean, I, I'd never thought that I would be the candidate to play the role of Mozart. I never even thought it was a possibility. I don't know why, because upon reading it, I thought, wow, myself and this character are quite similar. Not in the levels of genius. I'd like to stay humble in that regard, but in the levels of eccentricity and passion. You know, I feel that connection too, to Mozart. And when I got the audition, my agent was like, Please, you know, take this seriously. Learn your lines. I said, Have I ever not? You know? And so once I got the audition, I read the two scenes that I was meant to do. One of them was a raunchy escapade into the sexual desire, and one was a passionate connexion to a godlike genius existence. And I thought, well, two extremely different scenes that would be great in any school or role. And I learnt those two scenes. I just understood the character, I understood the musicality within it, I understood the pain, I understood it on a particular level that I just was dancing at the joy, because my favourite part of performance is to break down and analyse the dialogue and the scenes and the thoughts, the thoughts in between, the birth of thoughts, the revelations, the inner circle, outer circle and greater circle. You know, I just it was exciting. And when I learnt it, I went in there and I absolutely was like a child in a playground.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Wow, you really painting a picture of of that moment. I wish I was in the room.

Rahel Romahn: It was exciting and it's always fun. Yeah.

Courtney Ammenhauser: You mentioned a little bit about the eccentricity that you saw in the character and yourself, were there other similarities between?

Rahel Romahn: Yes, they call him the tiny creature and I myself of not of a tall stature or build those physical details. Have I also found a similarity.

Courtney Ammenhauser: And Michael Sheen is in this version of Amadeus and has previously played Mozart.

Rahel Romahn: I love this man.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Did this make you nervous to join him on stage?

Rahel Romahn: Of course.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah? 

Rahel Romahn: We're talking about one of the greatest theatre actors alive You know, I felt like just a general tennis player. And then you're throwing me on the court with, you know, Novak Djokovic or Federer or even a Serena Williams or what have you. And all of a sudden it kicks in. Hold on a second. I've gone from training practise person to someone on the court with the with the highest level. And so, of course, there's a level of nerves, but a level of excitement because I look at Michael Sheen and I see myself in so many qualities in him, not only physically, but passion. You know, you watch him in anything, you Google him in anything, you YouTube Michael Sheen on anything. He is so passionately invested in whatever it may be, as silly or as grand as it may be, you know, so absolutely. It is so exciting to be able to work with a master of the craft such as Michael Sheen.

Courtney Ammenhauser: I love that analogy to of the tennis court. 

Rahel Romahn: Yeah. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: And the playing. I mean that's what acting is right?

Rahel Romahn: Absolutely.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Lily, this show is a return to the stage for you. What have the last few years been like and how does it feel to be back?

Lily Balatincz: I've been, I've been working, I guess, yeah. In different creative capacities. Bit of this, bit of that, bit of circus artistry as well. And I'm actually so grateful for the opportunity to have explored different parts of my creative practise. To me, it feels like expansion of awareness. You know, as you continue to grow awareness as a human being, you're naturally going to have awareness grow. It's like parts of the room that were in the dark before have a light shone on them, and you start to see that, Oh, there's something over there that I wasn't aware of before.

Courtney Ammenhauser: How does it feel to be back and going into the show?

Lily Balatincz: Feels pretty great. Feels pretty, pretty damn exciting. Yeah, a little daunting. I'm not going to lie. It's, you know, it's on a very large scale. And working with one of the finest living theatre actors. One of the finest living actors. Yeah, it's a rare confluence of factors that comes together to feel almost fated, and it's definitely pinch me territory.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Lily, your dad was actually born in the same town as Mozart. Is that right? 

Lily Balatincz: Yeah. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: What happened when he found out that you got the role?

Lily Balatincz: Well, he. He was over the moon. And the first one of the first things he said to me was, well, you'd better go to Salzburg for research. And my dad has always said that he would never go back to Salzburg. He's, he was born there in a refugee camp and spent the first couple of years of his life in that refugee camp. So he's, there's a lot of stuff attached to it for him. We're from Hungary originally. And and I said to him, Yeah, I'll go if you go, Dad. And he, to my surprise, said, okay. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Wow

Lily Balatincz: And so we actually just visited as a family. My family went back to Salzburg. We went for the first time, but he went back for the first time since he was a little boy, which was a really beautiful, rare emotional journey.

Courtney Ammenhauser: I bet

Lily Balatincz: It was just surreal, to be honest. It was like visiting the the birthplace of Mozart, visiting the place where Mozart then lived when he was older, and they moved to a different home. And that was a place where my character, you know, went and visited Mozart's father with, with him. And, you know, my character died in Salzburg. So I went to the house where she died. And meanwhile, just a little bit over there was where my father was born. So it was yeah, it was quite a, quite a strange coming together of events and kind of contributed to the feeling, I guess, of it being a little fated, the whole thing.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Mm yeah. It's quite a powerful catalyst for your dad to go back like you getting this role.

Lily Balatincz: Yeah, it was. It was actually. Yeah, it felt like intergenerational healing. You know, my grandparents, my nagymama and nagypapa died when I was very young because they they had cancers from the DDT spray, which people were sprayed with when they entered Australia as refugees. And so my father was so young that he didn't get sprayed, but his parents did and they died very close to each other, far too young. And so that's a huge reason why he was never going to go back. So to be a part of, you know, researching for the play, but also being a part of my own, tracing my own family lineage and yeah, holding space for my father and being by his side for that was, you know, am going to get a little bit emotional talking about it, to be honest, because it was a very rare, rare experience that I don't think many people have the opportunity to have and has come about really because of this play. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: It's wild. That it’s worked out like that.

Lily Balatincz: It’s so wild. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Rahel, what do you think Amadeus is about? 

Rahel Romahn: I think Amadeus is about the unsheathing of the shiny, alluring sword of one's propensity for malevolence. And the revelation of one's most darkest feelings and desires, which is the yin and the yang, light and shade. The Union. Umbra or shadow. It's essentially a dance with the devil. The inner psychological odyssey of Salieri's retelling of a particularly envious period of his life.

Courtney Ammenhauser: And Lily? 

Lily Balatincz: I think it's about the interplay between mediocrity and profundity, what it is to be someone who is born with the capacity to recognise profundity, but not with the ability to produce it. And I think that that must be a very tortured state of affairs. Yeah, the exploration of of a of a real person who existed in history. Who created some of the most. I mean, transcendent, transcendent art across any art form that has ever been made. He touched God. And I also think being that I am playing Constanza, that, you know, that she has been given a pretty rough wrap even to this day by biographers as being, you know, money hungry, greedy, not worthy of him. And I'm quite proud of the character that I'm playing. Every actor kind of, you know, stands up for their character. But if it weren't for the fact that she published his works and that she spent the time to sign off on every single page of his works after he died far too young to make sure that no one else could be taking. You could take credit for his work, or that no one else could say that was Mozart when it actually wasn't. Then we wouldn't have the catalogue of his works that we have. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Rah, the plot of Amadeus famously applies a lot of creative licence to the story of Mozart. What kind of creative licence do you want to bring to your interpretation?

Rahel Romahn: What I want to bring. I mean, I find that oftentimes Mozart is played with a particular childlike quality. I want to bring something a little more, layered. The childlike quality being only one of the qualities. And I want to bring my version. You know, my fingerprint, as it were, to this role. And I have an odd ability to mimic and sing opera and and belt out a few tunes. And due to the simple reasoning of mimicry as a child, I used to love mimicking people and their voices and their not just the voices, but the intent in the voice and the musicality in the voice and everything like that. So when I look at the script, that's what I want to bring vocal dexterity more of a complexity. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: It's quite amazing to hear about you singing opera as well. Had you sung opera before?

Rahel Romahn: No. So I actually well, I never sang opera professionally or anything. But funnily enough, I was involved in Cosi, which we put on here at the Opera House and Cosi was short. It's an Aussie Australian play written by Louis Nowra, one of our great playwrights, and it's about an asylum that is as the passion and and willingness to put on. Cosi fan tutte, which is one of Mozart's famous comedic operas. And within that opera, there are scenes where the characters have to sing opera. And within those scenes, once we were taught the operatic bits, I found this natural inclination to be able to express myself within the operatic scheme and all the operatic kind of artistry. And and I found that I with my vibrato and with my dexterity, I was able to mimic quite well opera. So I'm going to try my best to incorporate that into the role, which as of yet I have not seen done. So hopefully it works out well.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah here’s hoping. In 2022 you've won the prestigious Heath Ledger scholarship. Can you talk to me about the acceptance speech you made?

Rahel Romahn: We were told, you know, obviously prepare speech, you know, and I'd been nominated for a few awards prior to that, but I'd never won and I never thought I would. It was more of an exercise for me. I wrote from my heart, you know, that speech, never knowing whether I'd recite it. I wrote a wonderful poem when I was nominated for an actor award, which I never got to recite. And I remember ripping it up in my pocket, my jacket pocket, when I didn't win the award. Part of me was hurt that I didn't get to read it. But part of me thought everything, as Lilly was saying earlier, was fated and that it was not time yet to recite this. Hmm.

Courtney Ammenhauser: And in the speech, you talk about artists who are perhaps less fortunate, who maybe don't get to study, as Lily was talking about earlier, in formal institutions. Yes. Can you elaborate a little bit more for people who might not have heard the speech?

Rahel Romahn: Absolutely. In the speech, I talk about less fortunate artists. And what I mean by that is whether it be financial, whether it be knowledge, whether it be whatever the circumstances may be. There are artists out there or at least people that haven't yet uncovered the - the fact that they could be artists, that potential for artistry, such as myself, I knew I wanted to do something. I didn't know what NIDA was. I didn't know what WAAPA was. I didn't know what anything was. And I know that there are people out there that are less fortunate. Hopefully one person will see that speech or see that moment and see themselves in me and know that it's possible. If it's possible for me, it's possible for them.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Do you think that things are getting better and that barriers are being broken down at all?

Rahel Romahn: Absolutely. Diversity is number one. I mentioned that in my speech. Also, it is the mirror to the world in saying that as much as diversity is important. What's most important to me is ability and merit and hard work. I don't want to see people in this industry that. It's not doing them a service to bring forth mediocrity, which isn’t that funny. That Amadeus is about that, isn't it? That it's about mediocrity versus genius? You know, absolutely. I love hard work. I love the undying necessity to be the top level of anything. There's a wonderful casting director. Recently I had a coffee with and she told me that. She'd never known the level of technique I encapsulate until she saw me in a particular play. After ten years of auditioning for her, it's because I didn't get a piece of material that was, that gave me the opportunity to showcase what I could do. And then she came and saw me in a play and then goes, Holy moly, this guy has a technique that I've never been that I've never been able to see at work. And that is just an example of what I'm saying is dig deep, really try and find the great ones. Not that I'm saying I am one. I'm saying that that is the duty of the industry. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: What's one thing that you think would enhance Australia's theatre scene? 

Rahel Romahn: I think everything starts in writing. You know, whenever I start anything as an actor or as a performer, I look at the writing. I think the most important thing is giving playwrights adequate time to be able to mould their thoughts, the complexities of the writing, the giving, each character, their own specific detail, and that and colour and quality and musicality. And I think when you allow a playwright the time to be able to carve that out concretely, you get the most potent mixture of what it is to watch a play, to mirror the inner vulnerabilities of what it is to be human to an audience so that they connect on an unconscious, subconscious and conscious level and don't even know why they’re so moved. But they are so I think absolutely taking time, you know, to carve out the best piece of art as possible, as is the case with everything else in life, whether you rush something. Rome wasn't built in a day. You know, I know that's a, it's a cliche, but. It definitely applies to this circumstance.

Courtney Ammenhauser: And Lily, with your experience in theatre, both here and overseas, the same question for you: what do you think could really enhance Australia's theatre scene?

Lily Balatincz: I have a similar sentiment to what Rah has just said, insofar as you have to sort of I guess give people the opportunity to showcase their chops and sometimes maybe think outside the box with who you would see for something. So like bringing people in for things that maybe goes against the grain, but sort of expanding the parameters of who could be allowed to play different characters, different sort of archetypes. And also, yeah, opening up positions at the table for new people to break in, not just having a sort of you can't sit with that kind of philosophy. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Totally, less gatekeeping.

Lily Balatincz: Yeah, I guess I also agree with the idea of a meritocracy. And I think that, you know, a meritocracy is inclusive of diversity. You know, you really just want to be encouraging the creation of art that is reflecting our society back to us in an authentic way and ensuring that people are being given opportunities to cut their teeth and build their careers and develop their talent over time. And not just be replicating the same sort of thing over and over again.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Well, speaking of making space for new people and new artists, who are some people who both of you think are up next that we should be keeping an eye on? Rah, do you want to go first?

Rahel Romahn: Recently I watched Never Closer at the 25 Belvoir, written by an amazing playwright, Grace Chappell. I promise you, I watched this play and I thought it was written in the fifties or sixties or I was like, Oh, wow, this is one of those classically amazing Northern Irish plays. And then I left the theatre and I said, So what? When was this written? The fifties. The Sixties. She said no. This is a recent work by an amazing playwright called Grace Chappell. And I was like, wow, this is. It was so Jacobean. It was so deep. It was so layered and had a good one direction. Fantastic. And it was just it gave me hope and excitement that there are writers out there. There are playwrights out there that follow the formula that works.

Lily Balatincz: I worked with an actor on Bad Machine named Abby Lee Lewis. She just toured the UK with Belvoir. She was phenomenal in Bad Machine, but she's also just directed, had her directing premiere and I'm excited to see where her career goes as a performer, as an actor and as an arts leader. Because I can see her as being an incredible artistic director one day, and she's a powerful, powerful First Nations woman with unlimited talent. So that's one. Hannah Bronte and her partner Jesswar J, e, s, s, w, a, r for people wanting to look it up. Hannah Bronte is a visual artist. I worked with her when I was working at Campbelltown Arts Centre. She works with sort of projections and video art a lot. Plus she deejays. Her partner is a hip hop artist and they are incredibly talented. You know, those two kind of mishmash stuff together. Hannah Sometimes deejays and uses her projection art in conjunction, and I would love to see Hannah's works on the sails one day. Victoria Pham she's, she actually performed here recently with James Nguyen. They did a work at the Opera House and it's about their exploration of the dong som drum. They're both Vietnamese Australian, so they kind of, these drums that have been taken out of Vietnamese culture and put basically into museum archives in Western countries, they've taken it upon themselves to start buying these drums, which is so incredible. So they've kind of got this like, you know, I think they've got a couple now, a couple of 2000 year old drums, the Repatriation Project. And she's just a force of nature. I mean, talk about the future of opera at the Opera House. She went to the Con. She's a composer, a musician. She's doing her PhD in archaeology at Cambridge at the moment. She is one of the kindest humans you will ever meet and just a force of nature. I don't know how she fits it all in.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Doing the most. 

Lily Balatincz: And the next thing she's as we met for coffee recently and she said, I think I'm going to do an opera next. And I was like, Of course, Victoria, of course you are. So that's another one to watch. So, anyone at the Opera House wanting to programme watch those spaces. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: That was Rahel Romahn and Lily Balatincz, performers in the new production of Amadeus, opening at the end of this year. In the next episode we’ll be hearing from singer-songwriter Ngaiire.

Ngaiire: I just feel - my mum flew in from PNG a few days ago to come see it and I said, Mum, how you feeling about all this stuff? She was dropping me off at the Opera House. She just. Burst out crying and she's like, I've always wanted to see a symphony orchestra and to be able to see it with my daughter is… and she just couldn't get the words out. She was just a mess.

Courtney Ammenhauser: I’m Courtney Ammenhauser and this has been Up Next, a podcast from the Sydney Opera House. From Audiocraft, the show is produced by Bernadette Phương Nam Nguyễn mixed by Glen Morrow, executive producer is Selena Shannon. From Sydney Opera House, Head of Digital Programming is Stuart Buchanan, and Digital Programming Coordinator is Georgia D’Souza. The Up Next theme music is by Milan Ring. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.