I only became interested in opera after I’d studied directing at NIDA, but there was quite a lot of classical music around me when I was growing up in Melbourne. My grandfather had a lovely tenor voice, and my grandmother was a classical pianist. They didn’t perform professionally, but they used to give little local concerts. My grandmother was a piano teacher, so she taught me piano. Their son, Don Battye, wrote a lot of Australian musicals, so I grew up on the edges of music and theatre.

Suzanne Chaundy

Suzanne Chaundy. Photo © Nicole Cleary.

I was really into pop music for a while. I liked Skyhooks when I was at school, and then I came to enjoy some of the more interesting, experimental artists like Radiohead and Björk. From early on, I really appreciated music that had a strong, layered sound.

My grandfather was appalled that I liked pop. We used to go out on Sunday drives and I remember a passionate brawl between my brother and my grandfather about The Beatles. My grandfather loathed them. It was only after he died that I started to work in opera. I know that...