Please tell us about yourself
A rising star in opera admits his journey has been far from the norm for aspiring tenors.
Shanul Sharma grew up in a household filled with Bollywood tunes, at home in India.
Mr Sharma arrived in Australia in 2003, where he began studying IT-Engineering at Charles Sturt University’s Wagga Wagga campus.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Outside his class time, Sharma fronted a rock band, Sobrusion, gigging at Wagga pubs and clubs.
“It wasn’t quite death metal, it was a heavy metal band, singing stuff that went around in the eighties, like Final Countdown by Europe, that sort of thing,” he said.
“It was a progression, because I went from Bollywood to rock’n’roll, to heavy metal, and now I’m an opera singer.”
“You know in rock’n’roll, if you don’t sell enough CDs on the day, you can’t afford the next can of baked beans, so you have to be very personal, and I’ve been able to reflect that in opera as well. So rock’n’roll has really honed my performance skills.”
During his 10 years in Wagga, Sharma gained Australian citizenship, before moving to Melbourne in 2013 to pursue his opera career.
That career is about to take another big step forward, requiring another move overseas.
“I’ve been accepted into the Wales International Academy of Voice, which is one of the most prestigious singing academies in the world. They’ve taken just 14 singers this year, and I’m one of them.”
From India to Wagga, from 80s rock to opera, Sharma’s journey is unusual.
“I reflect on it sometimes and think it’s been an interesting journey, but I’m a better performer for it.”
Sharma gives credit to his father, for encouraging him to follow his heart.
When he began with the band Sobrusion, there was some anxiety about what his parents back in India would think.
But Sharma said his father was always supportive about following his passion.
“My father passed away in 2013. He didn’t hear any of the classical singing, but I’m sure he would have been very proud,” Sharma said.
He is looking forward to performing for his family, at some point in the future.
“They know I’m singing opera, but they don’t understand opera very much,” he said.
It is likely the family will have to travel for that opportunity.
The Wales International Academy trains students to join vocal groups mainly in Europe.
But Sharma is expecting to return to Australia, where he has already performed with Greta Bradman and Marina Prior.
“After 12 months in Wales we’ll see what
‘I think, Opera is a pure union of music and drama “, said shanul sharma.
So how does he master the phonetics of a foreign language?
” All credit to my Hindi language . You know, Hindi vowels resonate quite similar to Italian. And Hindi nasal sounds are also similar to French. So I just need to think my Hindi sounds and approximate those to get the right resonance.” Shanul disclosed his secret.
Tell us about your journey in Opera?
It’s now been two whole months since I embarked on my musical journey and I am happy to report that so far so good; things are well and truly going to plan! The feedback on my singing has been very positive and my musicality especially has been highly praised. I have had one on one coachings with several high profile conductors, repetiteurs and language coaches and masterclasses with established artists such as Susan Bullock and Della Jones. One masterclass that I hold dear to me was the one with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa which was about a fortnight ago. She was very encouraging and helped me discover colours in my voice I never thought I had! She is truly an exceptional coach and an artist worthy of her accolades.
My lessons with maestro Dennis O’Neill have set me on a path to discovering my inner and outer voice. He is an amazing human being and vocal technician and can still sing most singers off the stage! The intense focus of his sound and teaching methodology is synonymous with ease. He is a great mentor and is hell bent on helping those who seek his knowledge; which believe me is vast!
I have also been given the opportunity to sing at concerts organised by the academy and have been received well by the public here. I guess being the only tenor this year has it’s benefits!
In closing I would like to add that none of the above would have been possible in the slightest without your generous contribution. I am very fortunate indeed to have all your support and I hope I prove to be a worthy recipient of your generosity.