Haotian Qi and Esther Song, principals with Opera Australia

Haotian Qi and Esther Song, principals with Opera Australia

We both love eating. She cooks Korean food, I cook Chinese food. Sometimes I try cooking Korean food but no, no. Something is not right. I put in everything according to the YouTube tutorial but it’s just different. I say, ‘Okay, fine.’

Singing together is great fun. We can really feel each other when we sing. It’s a couple thing. I know when she’s going to breathe, and when she’s going to need to sing very high, and I will follow her. Some people want to show off themselves, but I love to be an accompanist for my wife.

Esther: I noticed Haotian at the conservatorium because he was tall, quite handsome, good at singing. And he was very nice. I really liked hanging around with him. After we started going out in 2018, it just flowed like water to marriage. We knew we were meant for each other.

“Haotian loves books. I like sports. When I said to him, ‘Let’s play tennis,’ he was like, ‘Isn’t it dangerous?’ ”

Before meeting Haotian, I once asked my mum, ‘Is there such a thing as real love, like I’ve seen on TV, in dramas and movies? The kind where you would die for them? Does this happen?’ Because I’d never felt that. I didn’t think I could live with one person for my whole life because everyone has flaws, and you would always think about them. Haotian has flaws, of course. He’s very stubborn. That’s one of the first that comes to my mind. But when I was going out with him, I was ready to embrace everything. I loved everything about him.

I came to Australia from Korea with my parents when I was six. Like Haotian, I don’t have siblings. I’ve never felt loneliness, though. My parents never left me. Haotian was often by himself, looking at TV, or with his grandma, because his parents were busy. My mum and dad are very encouraging, whereas Haotian’s dad was saying to him, ‘You’re not good enough.’ So he is always doubting himself.

But Haotian is a person who gives a lot. When someone is in trouble or needs help, he will give it. I think that’s what I love most about him. I saw that quality in his parents too. My mother-in-law is so nice. She treats me like a real daughter. Apparently she really wanted a daughter and was upset that she had a boy.

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I’m kind of an in-your-face, excited girl. I’m quite fiery and bouncy. Haotian is calmer. He’s a thinker and a reader. He loves books. I like sports. When I first said to him, ‘Let’s play tennis,’ he was like, ‘Isn’t it dangerous?’ He didn’t want to play, but he ended up loving it. Afterwards I said, ‘Let’s play golf.’ He was like, ‘That’s not really a sport, is it?’ I dragged him to a lesson and he was so good. That’s his favorite sport now.

Koreans like to do everything fast. We’re a fast nation. But the Chinese people do things slowly. In a 60kph zone, Haotian is driving at 40. I’m like, ‘Why?’. He says, ‘We have to be safe.’ We’ve had a lot of those arguments. When I went to China, they were eating and having tea the whole day. Koreans don’t like that. We just eat and finish. When Haotian came to Korea, we went to a buffet. After 30 minutes, he had just started eating and everyone else was finished, looking at him.

We both get so nervous before we perform. We’re nervous for the whole day, though with him you can never tell. Backstage, right before we go on, we’re still nervous. But when we start, we forget. We have an amazing duet in The Barber of Seville [touring regional Australia until mid-September]. If he’s not nice to me, I’m going to sing so fast. I’m a coloratura soprano and he’s a baritone, so it’s going to be very hard for him to keep up.

twoofus@goodweekend.com.au

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