Shanul Sharma, an Indian-Australian opera singer, has won the prestigious 2017 Rossini International Award. The Award is dedicated to the Italian composer and is given to talented young artists who either specialise in the repertoire or exemplify the best of Rossini’s musical traditions.

Unusually for Rossini tenors, Sharma began his musical career as lead vocalist for a heavy metal band. But following a stint studying IT at Charles Sturt University he made the decision to move to Melbourne in 2013 and pursue a career in opera. He was one of 14 singers accepted into the Wales International Academy of Voice in 2016, a highly respected young artist programme.

Sharma said “I am thrilled beyond words with this achievement, and it is a testament to Maestro Dennis O’Neill’s incredible insight into vocal technique and the old Italian school of singing, which he readily imparts to us all. This has led me on to a path of self discovery and growth where I have found new ways of communicating as a singer, all the while receiving tremendous support from the tireless staff at WIAV”.

“Our student Shanul Sharma has just returned from participating in one of of Italy’s most important international competitions, which is devoted to the memory and works of the great Italian composer Rossini,” said WIAV Director Dennis O’Neill. “Not only was he placed first in the vocal section but then, in the round for all instrumentalists, he was again placed first. Effectively the prix d’honeur of the festival. This is an extraordinary achievement and something that, for example, I personally could not have achieved at his stage of development. This is what WIAV is all about. An Indian born artist, naturalised Australian, came to WIAV, to study in Wales, and has achieved this international honour. Bravo Shanul!”

Sharma has given a number of recitals in Australia, including appearing in concert with Marino Prior, and was coached by John Haddock and Nicole Dorigo at Opera Australia. Aside from his early career in heavy metal, Sharma has also appeared in Australian productions of Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon.