Conchita Wurst on ‘Thema’ in Australia: Focus, A Voice She Has to Work At, and a Complicated Person

conchita wurst in sydney

As much as I’m enamoured of Conchita Wurst, I have been going through phases lately where I spend far less time following what she’s doing than I have in the past.


Odd you might think for a writer once based in Bangkok, and now in the process of moving to Vienna, Austria for the sole purpose of being closer to her.

What is more odd, however, is that Conchita Wurst has had the ability to hold an enormous part of my attention as long as she has. For almost two years. When the only other person I was remotely this fascinated in (Morrissey) lasted all of eight weeks.

But what I find most interesting about her is, even during those periods where I’m on a ‘Conchita break’, all it takes is watching a short video and I realize immediately why I’m still so intrigued by her. And likely to remain so for a long time to come.

Which is exactly what happened to me today with just one viewing of ORF‘s Thema: Conchita Wurst in Australien.

A show in which the Austrian journalist Christoph Feurstein traveled with Conchita to Sydney to film her preparation for and concert at the Sydney Opera House.

A video that, by the end of it, I had renewed admiration for the love of my life (well, as artists go, she probably is), and a new appreciation for why I still admire her so much.

Conchita Wurst’s concentration and focus is astounding

No matter how much I’m interested or not interested in Conchita Wurst on a given day, one thing has never wavered since the first time I saw her walk on a stage at Eurovision 2014.

That is my belief the incredible Ms. Wurst will one day be a world superstar. Because, to me, it has never been a case of ‘if’ but simply ‘when’.

That feeling was strengthened even more from the moment the 24-minute Thema segment began and Conchita Wurst says, “Shortly before the show, I’m in tunnel vision. And if you would speak to me, then you would not get an answer. The sense of focus includes silence. And that is the most important thing”.

And it’s with this opening that I realize again why, as much as I will occasionally move away from her for a while, Conchita Wurst will always be able to pull me back.

Because it’s her ability to be completely focused on one thing, to the absolute exclusion of everything else, and to be able to snap herself away from one thing and completely into another in just a split second that I am intrigued by.

An ability that is beautiful to watch, as it is something a tiny number of people can do to the extent that she does it, but something that is absolutely one of the main reasons why she will become a world superstar.

Because getting to that level does demand that kind of intense concentration.

conchita at sydney opera house
Here is that lovely look to the side as she talks about how grateful she is to be at the Sydney Opera House and accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Her endless gratitude

There is something I find touching about Conchita Wurst, and that is what seems like her endless gratitude for everything that is happening to her.

Sure, if you’re a bit jaded, you could say it’s all an act, laid on to make people think she’s humble and grateful so they will like her more.

But believe me, I’ve watched her closer than most people on the planet, while I’ve analyzed practically every move she makes. Every video, every photograph, every facial expression. For two years.

And I’ve sat closer to her than many of you will probably ever get. And spent the entire time I was with her studying the look in her eyes and how she sits, and her body language, and the way her hands move, and how, as much as she tries, she cannot hide the emotion she’s feeling if you know what to look for.

So, I will tell you without any doubt whatsoever that when Conchita Wurst says she’s grateful for what is happening to her — she is.

Just look at how she reacts in Thema when she talks about singing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (in the video around the 4:54 mark). How she explains most artists are allowed to perform at the Opera House or with the Symphony Orchestra, but not both. And how she realized what a great privilege it was that she was given the opportunity to have just that.

It’s in the way she says, “Because I have this entire package”, and then she pauses. And looks away. And smiles to herself in the sweetest most heart-touching way. And then says, “That’s something very special. And a huge privilege”.

She means it. She really does.

conchita wurst live at sydney opera house

Her not-so perfect voice

If you have watched enough Conchita Wurst interviews, you will have heard her mention how her voice is not as good as Barbra Streisand’s/Mariah Carey’s/whoever she’s fixating on at the moment. And she mentions it again during Thema.

Because she obsesses over what she can and cannot do on stage, and then works as hard as she can to ensure she is always improving, so she can get to where she ultimately wants to be with her performance.

But here’s the thing.

I like that it’s harder for her to sing as perfectly as she would like than it is for the Rihannas or the Shirley Basseys of this world.

Because, to me, what she does eventually produce with her occasional voice breaks, and with the notes she sometimes has to strain for a little bit more, is so damned authentic and honest, she touches my soul far more than anyone else can.

conchita complicated

She’s an incredibly complicated person

Even for me, someone who has analyzed her beyond absolute reason, I have still only scratched the surface when it comes to Conchita Wurst. Because she is an incredibly complicated person to understand.

That becomes ever more obvious during shows like Thema when, as time goes on and she is learning more about herself, her answers to questions become more mature and far more introspective.

At one point, Christoph Feurstein asks her, “You now write songs yourself? Does that mean we now get Conchita even more pure than we already know her?”

And she answers, “I think you not only get a more pure Conchita, but that one also gets to know Tom a little more”. (Tom Neuwirth, the man behind Conchita Wurst)

And I get the feeling that, as much as she is learning more about herself because of everything she does and everything that is happening to her, she is also learning more about Tom. And he is learning more about himself, and about her.

Which tells me, as much as there are days where I am not always as inquisitive about her as other days, I will never tire of her.

Because how could you ever tire of someone this intelligent, this unique, this complicated and this willing to dig as deep as it is possible to go to get to what she believes is the best human being she can possibly be.

Whether, on any given day, that human being turns out to be all her, or all him. Or a lovely mix of both.

Watch Conchita Wurst on ORF‘s Thema: Conchita Wurst in Australien in the video below. For me, it’s just one more piece in that ever more beautiful puzzle.

Michelle Topham