Australia’s top coloratura sings Mozart and talks training, top notes, bel canto, bosoms and Bonynge.

It’s the morning after the night before when I roll up outside Emma Matthews wood-fronted house in the Sydney suburb of Hurstville Grove, and I can’t help wondering whether she’ll have any energy left for our interview. Less than 15 hours ago she took her curtain call to a rapturous ovation after the opening night of Opera Australia’s new production of Rossini’s The Turk in Italyand, given what she gave, I imagine she crawled home and flopped into bed, pausing only to cancel the next morning’s alarm. The welcome I receive, however, puts my mind at rest instantly: “I’m still buzzing!” she reassures me as I’m invited in, and she heads for the kitchen to make me a substantial pot of tea. While the kettle’s boiling we natter away about England (where I’m from and she was born) and Vanuatu (where I’ve just come back from holiday and she lived for two years). By the time we settle down on the sofa with a large plate of biscuits for the actual interview she’s feeling quite the old friend.

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