Travelling alone constantly for more than a decade now, I love just seeing what happens in a new place, and abandoning myself to that. It's how I stumbled upon one of the most remarkable ancient bathhouses, the Aire in Sevilla, or how I found a vintage Colnago Mapei Dream racing bike (which I now travel with everywhere) at a little road-side stall in Bolzano, Italy, or why I climbed the Qixing volcano in Taiwan alone on a whim, with no map or guide. These moments are what stay with me and inspire me to ask for the most from my life as I continue to explore and grow.
Nothing will teach you humility faster than being dropped into a place where you do not speak one word of the language. You realise instantly how easy it is to judge a person's intelligence based on their ability to communicate, and the frustration of not being able to do so has really helped me be a more patient and kind listener to those I meet who are out of their cultural/linguistic comfort zone. I speak English, French, German and some Spanish, but that hasn't helped me recently in Japan, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Taiwan, or Oman.
Being immersed in new environments and cultures for many years has made me hyper aware of the imbalance of wealth, resources and opportunity in our world. With the suffering and destitution I have seen in parts of Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and especially in some of the wealthiest cities in North America, I'm reminded that we are all the same, and all worthy of love, dignity and respect.
Travelling full-time for a career that is heavily dependent on physical wellness has taught me the value of taking care of myself, but more importantly, how strong I am. Singers have to be smart about vocal health, but sometimes when travelling things go wrong, and after sleeping on the floor at Berlin Tegel airport one night recently, then flying the next day to Toronto to perform, I've learned what I'm capable of.
The unpredictability of travelling for a living has taught me the value of taking ownership of my own needs and expectations. Sitting around and waiting for other people to get things done for me is rarely the better option. But on the flip side, I also know when to ask for help, and I'm so lucky to have wonderful support in my life, as well.
Irish-Canadian Wallis Giunta was awarded Young Singer of the Year at the 2018 International Opera Awards. She performs at the Ukaria Centre Adelaide on December 6, Sydney Opera House December 8, and at the Adelaide Festival, March 13-15. See wallisgiunta.com adelaidefestival.com.au sydneyoperahouse.com