One of Australia’s most iconic actors reveals her most cherished musical memories.

I sat next to Judith Durham, of Seekers fame, in the school choir as a young Fahan student in Hobart. Perhaps it was that early indelible experience of hearing the warmth and power of Judith’s soaring notes which instilled in me an enduring love for the female voice. Decades later, I played Nellie Melba on ABC  television and, later, Maria Callas on  stage at the Sydney Opera House. The odd thing about acting the role of one who has a mighty talent and has lived on in the memories and music collections of millions, is that, in a wig and costume, standing in the lights, with the sound of her voice filling the air, one almost believes in one’s own personal power to reproduce those notes. Alas, the power of theatre does not extend so far.

I grew up in a house where popular music was the sole influence, but there is no need to be sniffy about popular music. Many prominent exponents of popular music in the 20th century were great artists: Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin.  But on a...