A balancing act

August 17th, 2020A balancing act

SOCIAL justice advocate, opera singer, mother and local event manager – Tiffany Speight is every woman, it’s all in her.

These days, Tiffany is balancing her opera work with home-schooling, as well as pre-planning the two massively popular local events she organises annually –Malmsbury’s Easter egg hunt, and the Christmas carols.
Her drive emerged at an early age though, while her school friends were playing tennis on the weekends, Tiffany was at rallies with her dad, who was heavily involved in unions – meanwhile her mum was advocating for women’s rights.
“I loved it, I really did. My family was always involved in the community, in fighting for people,” Tiffany said.
And from sitting on the back of a truck yelling “solidarity!” Tiffany’s voice began to grow – in an unexpected and beautiful way.
“I was about four or five, that’s probably when I got my first taste for it, getting up and singing and dancing and I think everyone kind of realised then that there was something in it, and it’s just kind of kept going from there for me.
“So I packed up my bags and off I went for an audition. I didn’t get it, but the conductor suggested that maybe my voice wasn’t suited to a chorus and maybe I should think about having a solo career and to find myself a teacher – at this point, I was about 16.
“I ended up going to the College of the Arts, in Melbourne, and it’s just kind of kept going from there. I went to Opera Australia and since then I’ve travelled the world, it’s taken me so many places, this career. And I’ve met so many amazing people.”
And while Tiffany’s career has been sparkling, it’s a good thing that she has a background in fighting for people because that’s what she is doing now for her scholars, as the pandemic ravages the arts world.
As vocal director of Opera Scholars Australia, Tiffany is guiding the 18-25 year olds through the trickiest part of their career in an even trickier time for the industry.
“The word that we use at the moment? Decimated. There are a few companies opening up again, certainly in Europe, and I’m keeping in contact with all my colleagues all over the world but there’s nothing, there’s no events.
“People are getting really resourceful, there’s a lot online but you know, it’s really tricky when you’re dealing with young people. They’re trying to start their careers, and I’m trying to keep them motivated when we know there’s certainly nothing in the foreseeable future – we just don’t know. And I think ‘oh God, are we prepping people for unemployment?’ It’s terrible.”
Tiffany has, however, been coming up with some fabulous solutions.
“So I’ve been working with them and doing Zoom sessions, it’s been great fun. I can coach them, but we just can’t sing together – if you’ve ever tried singing Happy Birthday on Zoom you’ll see the time delay, the internet connections… it’s the only thing we can’t do. So we sing individually, then edit it together and it takes 10 times as long as if we were all together. But it’s worth it.”
And there, right there, you can almost hear a faint echo from the past.

Words: Kate Taylor : Image: Pia Johnson

More Articles

Back to top