Opera Australia’s Shanul Sharma is caught in the many lows of the global pandemic.
- Opera Australia’s Shanul Sharma says his entire family in India has been infected with COVID-19
- His grandmother passed away this week from the virus
- Sharma has had five productions cancelled this year, however remains optimistic about the future for theatre
The Indian-born tenor’s entire family has caught COVID-19 and earlier this week he lost his grandmother to the virus.
Sharma also missed the funeral for his mother who passed away last year, but that loss was not COVID-19 related.
“There was a pandemic raging in India back then as well. Everything had to be done really quickly.
“So even if I had arrived I would of missed everything.”
Sharma had hoped to bring his sister to Australia from India, however that plan was cancelled after international borders shut.
“The ban on people returning from India was a little bit strange, but I’m sure the people in power know what they are doing,” he said.
“Reporting in India is interesting because there are moments when things are not reported, or they are reported as a death from another cause.
Pandemic devastating for theatre world
Sharma is a tenor with Opera Australia and has been with the organisation since his 2014 debut.
He said the global pandemic has been “devastating” for the theatre industry.
“We are trying to find a way for theatre to survive now,” he said.
“Theatre is one of those things where you have to be an audience member to feel the emotions and the interpretation in front of your eyes.
Over the past 12 months, Sharma said he has had five productions cancelled, but he remained optimistic.
“I’m very lucky because I’m with Opera Australia and they have looked after me for a very long time.
“Other singers are not so fortunate, so I’m just happy that I have a job as a singer at the moment.”
From metal to opera
As an opera singer, Sharma has performed at some of the most prestigious venues and cities around the world — from the LaVerdi Auditorium in Milan, the Norwegian national opera in Oslo, Sydney Opera House and even the local Opera in the Alps event.
“I would say one of the most memorable moments was performing in front of the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow,” he said.
Sharma was not always an opera singer, starting his singing career as the front man of a heavy metal band based in Wagga Wagga.
“The similarities between opera and heavy metal is the virtuosity, more than anything else.
“An opera singer can sing for a very extended period of time in a very unnatural situation for a male voice.
“And because the heavy metal band was so loud I ended up singing very high all the time to cut through the band. So it was seamless transition into opera.”
Sharma has family connection at the border and often comes to visit.
“My partner is from Albury and every time I am here I stay with her family,” he said.
“Home base for me right now is my suitcase, or between Melbourne and Sydney.”