An Interview with Bachelor of Music Graduate Shakira Tsindos12 April 2016
A Bachelor of Music Performance (Honours) graduate from the university, Mezzo-soprano Shakira Tsindos will star as Alisa in Victorian Opera’s presentation of Lucia di Lammermoor. Farrago’s Chelsea Cucinotta spoke to Shakira about breaking into the business, and her upcoming role.
Shakira, tell me a little bit about the role of Alisa that you will play in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Alisa is handmaiden to Lucia, the central character. Though she is a maid, she becomes more than that as the opera unfolds. She is Lucia’s best friend and someone that she confides in. Whenever Lucia is distressed, Alisa also finds herself feeling down.
And how did you prepare for this role?
Originally I went along to the rehearsals as a way of practicing and developing my voice. Through this, I actually landed the role of understudy of Alisa. Unfortunately though, the original Alisa fell ill, and I stepped into her role only recently.
For the production I have been coached by the Victorian Opera, and have also had to work on my Italian. Everyone has been incredibly supportive of me, and it has been such a wonderful ride.
Do you find that you relate to Alisa?
Alisa is a mother hen – she sees to the needs of others before herself. Alisa is quite stern – which I can definitely relate to. The relationship between Alisa and Lucia is really lovely and something that I share with my own friends. It is such a caring and loving role.
What has it been like working with Jessica Pratt?
I am still in awe to be working alongside her. She is such an artist. Vocally, she is incredible – she can do things with her voice that I have never heard live. She also has so much wisdom to share. She has given me the best advice, little things that can help me along my journey, which are valuable. It has definitely been a learning experience.
What about your appreciation for classical music? Was that something that developed in the later years of your life, or have you always leaned towards classical music?
In primary and high school, I was always singing and playing the piano. It was not until the later years of secondary school that I got involved in choirs and productions. In fact, I had always planned on doing a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne or Speech Pathology at La Trobe University. It was not until I played Eliza Doolittle, in My Fair Lady – a production that is so classically inclined and really, my dream role, that I decided that this was what I wanted to do. So, I auditioned for the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and during my time there, I really began appreciating classical music.
Congratulations on receiving the Joseph Sambrook Opera Scholarship for 2016. Tell me a bit about the scholarship, and what it involves.
Thank you! I am thrilled to be a part of this scholarship program. There are seven of us singers and two pianists. Basically, we receive monetary funds that assist with building our career. The funds cater for our singing lessons, language coaching, stagecraft lessons and even yoga to support our posture. We also have a mentor program throughout the year, which involves eight blocks of intensive weeks, where we work with singers, mezzo-sopranos and even stylists. I really think that the program is the bridge between finishing my university degree (2015) and starting a career.
What is your advice for music students wanting to start landing roles like yourself?
My advice is to get your own opportunities. Do not wait for them to come for you. With Lucia di Lammermoor for example, I thought the role was well suited for myself so I put my hand up for it. It snowballed, and now I am playing this wonderful role. If there is an opportunity – take it!
That is great advice; do you have any tips for students preparing for auditions?
Prepare pieces that are well within your development – sing pieces from a role that would suit you right now; a role that you could go straight onto stage and sing. Sing something that the audition panel can visualise you performing, and you will do great.
Thank you so much Shakira, I really appreciate your time. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, and I wish you all the best for Lucia di Lammermoor.
Thank you, I am still pinching myself!
Lucia di Lammermoor will be held at Her Majesty’s Theatre from 12 to 21 April. You can buy tickets here.