I was coached in public speaking from the age of eight, and spent the next (you don’t need to know how many) years doing it, along with more than a decade of a career in it. I’m only telling you this because it means I know a good public speaker when I see one.
Conchita Wurst is a good public speaker. Something I suspected after seeing videos of her speaking in English but, with speeches that weren’t always the best I’d heard, it was difficult to know for sure.
Yesterday, however, a video surfaced on YouTube of Conchita Wurst giving a reading in German from Lewis Caroll’s ‘Through The Looking Glass‘ and she is superb.
What is even more interesting about this video is it was filmed in May, at a Life Ball event in Vienna. Just a couple of weeks after Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest. And Conchita back then is different than the one we know today. Less experienced about having the world’s spotlight on her, (it’s only been two weeks) and not quite as self-assured.
So to see her read this passage from ‘Through The Looking Glass‘, (Alice hinter den Spiegeln in German) so beautifully, and with such poise, is astonishing.
Conchita’s voice is always beautiful – the pitch, the tone, the way she speaks so precisely, and pronounces everything so prettily, and her use of High German. I don’t understand more than 50 words of German, and even I can tell that. But what makes her performance so wonderful to watch here is not just her voice, but the preciseness of everything she does.
The way she stands with such a lovely posture, even while her head is bent reading. How she smiles as she begins helps to set the scene, and makes her look confident, as if she doesn’t have a care in the world, rather than that she’s about to start reading a passage in front of a hall jammed with people.
The speed in which she reads the passage — it’s perfect. The unhurried feel of everything she does. Her breath control. The expression in her voice making it obvious she’s speaking in voices of different people. The way she moves past the couple of tiny mistakes she makes, without letting them worry her in the slightest.
Everything about Conchita Wurst’s reading is so ‘on point’, even through the video you can feel the audience’s surprise.
She’s a 25-year-old drag queen (at that particular time) and, in some people’s eyes, she’s not supposed to be able to do this. To speak so clearly and with quiet emotion, like a classically-trained actress, and with such elegance, she really is that immaculate work of art you cannot take your eyes off.
In fact, her reading of ‘Through The Looking Glass’ here also speaks to the enigma that is Conchita Wurst. Always surprising, ever changing, and never what you might expect.
And no, as much as I admire her, and know what she is capable of, I didn’t quite expect this either. It’s a beautiful performance. Almost perfect in every way. Up to and including the way she leaves the stage when she’s finished. With a simple bow of her head.
Now remember this. I can do what she just did there. I can do it because I had years of training to get to that point — the point where it looks effortless. She did that without the benefit of what I had, which makes this performance even more stunning.
Think on it.