Sydney Opera House

The Operative Word - Mark Fitzpatrick


Why do you do the job that you do?I left teachers' college to play in an orchestra, always my great love. Years later I discovered the specialist art of 2nd violin, which along with the violas is the rhythmic engine of an orchestra. That’s what I love.

Who has influenced you most professionally?John Harding as a teacher and leader, and conductors Carlo Felice Cillario, Richard Bonynge and Stuart Challender, for whom the integrity of the music was always more important than the ego of the performer.

Is there any other profession that you would have liked to have followed?  Art, law, archaeology and horology.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?Being at home alone with a clock to fix, or drawing nudes.

If you could have dinner with a historical figure, who would it be?Maybe John Harrison, the clock maker who solved the navigational problem of longitude who was largely self taught. Violinist  Albert Sammons, also mostly self taught, would be good and so would Rossini, but I would want him to cook.

 What is your greatest extravagance? My monthly dinner with friends, where we choose the restaurant, plan the menu and drink wines not less than 10 years old.

One thing you regret is…Not working in London and Europe for longer when I had the chance.

If you could have any opera character as a friend, who would it be, and why?  Falstaff, for his love of life and ability to laugh at himself, and Gianni Schicchi, who could spot a fool a mile away.

Who or what is the love of your life? My family is the “who” and music is the “what”.

What are you optimistic about?The future in general. Just look around, we live in a remarkable time, despite huge problems. The enemies are ignorance and lack of vision and courage.

You would like to devote more time to…Practising the violin and being a better father.

What is your favourite food?Almost anything my wife Sara cooks, and my own home-made chicken schnitzel.

 What is your most treasured possession? My books and the tools my father made.

Which is the opera that got you hooked?Aida.

Which opera do you never need to hear again?  Capriccio, but really any opera with a lazy, sloppy conductor.

If there’s one quote that really speaks to you it’s…The motto for the Enlightenment, proposed by Immanuel Kant: “Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!”

What is your idea of misery?Being over-rehearsed by a conductor with poor stick technique.

You still hope to…Read the complete works of Shakespeare and learn patience before I die.

Which characteristics do you most admire in others?Tolerance, humility, honesty and a sense of humour.

You feel guilty when you think about….People I have personally let down. Guilt is a very destructive emotion, so it is best to make amends whenever possible.

What type of holiday do you most enjoy?One with no responsibilities or obligations.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?My impatience and my bad temper. They are, of course, linked.

Who is your favourite band? The Beatles. While they were together they never stopped growing.

You spend too much money on…Wine.

Your greatest achievement has been…Not running away from my obligations and being opinionated without  pissing off too many people. (I hope).

The book everyone loved but you could not finish was...Perfume.

What is your favourite kitchen appliance?  The “Ah So” two-pronged corkscrew.

How do you stay up to date with new technology and trends?I ask my daughters (14 and 7).

Who is your favourite heart throb?Grace Kelly in Rear Window, Errol Flynn in just about anything.