Shanul – a young handsome Indian tenor of Australia


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By Neena Badhwar

Shanul Sharma came as a student of IT few years ago to Australia. Little did he know that he will be one day an opera singer and a tenor at that. A handsome young man who landed in Australia at the tender age of 19 was moulded into what he is today with his journey that traverses from listening to Mohammed Rafi in his young years in Delhi, to heavy metal and finally an opera singer who is being hailed as the operatic voice of young yet multicultural Australia.

On stage Shanul has appeared as ‘Piangi’ in Phantom of the Opera (Babbira Music Theatre) and ‘Engineer’ in Miss Saigon (Albury Wodonga Theatre Company). Subsequently performing throughout 2010 & 2011 as guest tenor with the Australian Army Orchestra. Shanul moved to Melbourne in August 2012 to commence vocal studies and has remained active on the concert and recital stages around Victoria and NSW since. In 2013 he was a featured soloist on the ‘Melbourne Welsh Male Choir’ album ‘In the Spirit’.

Having ended up in Regional NSW in Wagga Wagga Shanul joined a band Subrusion. He was deep into heavy metal then as he wrote lyrics and produced three albums under its banner. He says music was a regular feature of his childhood when his civil engineer dad took the family around on outings along with his mum and his little sister. As children they sat at the back of the car and their young ears were so receptive to Bollywood songs sung in the 50s and the 60s that his dad loved. “I remember the speakers at the back of the car that blared all Mohammed Rafi songs and were mostly from Shammi Kapoor movies such as the famous ”˜Yahoo’ song.”

“I loved Rafi’s voice, his trills, and shrills, the highs and the lows, and fine singing, how the singer sang some of the most memorable songs.”

“This gave me the musical spark, ” says Shanul.

“That is what led me to like music a lot. My dad used to say academics are many but singers like Rafi are very rare.”

Unlike  many Indian parents who put a lot of stress on their children to study, his dad, however, Shanul  says, loved music and steered his  taste towards music. He says with a laugh that he started off in India singing songs such as ”˜Khambe jaise khadi hai’ but soon was introduced to Michael Jackson’s music and also rock music.

“We Punjabis kinda sing with ”˜dil khol ke’ and that is what gave me my originality when I was in the band. We wrote a lot of original music and I wrote lyrics myself.”

Shanul soon realised that he has to go more deeper into his passion as he after when his band broke up thought why not try the western classical. He packed up his bags and landed in Melbourne to learn western classical music. In this transition phase Shanul read a lot of Gita and Eckhart Tolly, both gave him power, purpose and a path and a passion to follow.

“I didn’t have a very big voice and I refused screaming, so I had to develop frequencies in my voice that could travel over loud guitars, drums and the rest,” Shanul said.

He tried to explore his voice further when he trained under some of the best opera singers in Australia and last year earned a scholarship with Opera Australia and trained with Joshua Hecht.

Soon he was spotted in various ARIA concerts at times he sang from start to finish. “It was last minute casting sometimes and I had to learn just in a matter of two days before performing,” says Shanul.


Shanul has been accepted by Wales International Academy of Voice in Cardiff, he informs TIDU proudly, and is looking forward to be trained under the best conductors, opera singers to which he says will develop his career further. This school accepts only about 15 students from around the world and is known for having produced some of the best opera singers in the world.

Shanul says he has been been trained under the guidance and mentorship of some exceptional opera singers, coaches and mentors in Australia who have praised and encouraged him a lot.

What does he say to Indians who are Bollywood fans how can they get hooked to his genre of music that is pure calssical western, says the tenor, “Opera requires a deep intellectual commitment from the listener an art that combines music and drama at the highest level. At times one can see that even in Bollywood movies. They take one to a different level. When you listen to opera, close your eyes and imagine the character, his pain, love  –  a whole gamut of emotions come to the surface. Opera helps people get lost in themselves. It touches people on various levels of their consciousness.”

Shanul keeps on going back to his childhood days and remembers, “Ram Leela ”“ remember the enactment of the story of Ramayana also used to leave the audience spell bound.”

“Same is with opera. It plays with basic human emotions. It is able to bring that out of a singer and drags it out of you on stage. When performing I totally get lost. And as you know opera is very lavish with over 100 musicians playing in the orchestra  it can be  quite an absorbing experience not just for the singers, the conductor and the musicians but also for the audience who get drawn into it.”

“Opera has helped me grow as a person.”

When I ask him about if there will be any Indian folklores converted into opera Shanul mentions ”˜Pearl Fishers’ by Georges Bizet and the French ”˜Lakme’ which is set in India. “Portinis’ Turende and Madame Butterfly I suggest one must see.”

How come the opera has not been taken up in India, Shanul disagrees, saying, “I have heard that a quite a devoted audience has built up in India who love opera.”

So when are you performing in Sydney for us?

“I will definitely let you know when I come to Sydney,” he says, at the moment thinking of how to fund for his study at Wales is on top of his mind which he says will cost a lot.

Shanul Sharma is performing in Melbourne as one of the 10 tenors in opera ”˜Songs that my father taught me’ ”“ a 55 piece symphonic orchestra on May 1 at Southbank in Melbourne at 2pm.

We suggest you must go and listen to this young Indian tenor down under who is well versed in Hindi, Punjabi, English and Italian and will be singing some of the acclaimed collection of Neapolitan and popular Italian songs.




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