National Indigenous Opera Company comes to Melbourne to nurture young Indigenous singers.

Australia’s National Indigenous Opera Company, Short Black Opera, will continue its annual tradition of mentoring young Indigenous operatic talent when 15 promising Indigenous singers from across the nation come together at the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts where the company is due to take up residence. Comprising Australia’s best Indigenous singers, the company is headed by Yorta Yorta soprano Deborah Cheetham who is a firm believer in discovering and fostering indigenous vocal talent.

The training program will be delivered in collaboration with the University’s Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, of which Cheetham is also the head. Those lucky enough to have been selected to partake in the program include Wiradjuri Soprano Shauntai Batzke who grew up in Sydney and was already an established gospel singer when she discovered opera.

Batzke is already a rising star, currently collaborating with Short Black Opera as a developing artist. Another student, Shepparton singer Chanoa Cooper, 19, the great-niece of Aboriginal political activist and community leader William Cooper, also shows tremendous promise. She too, has already made her mark and is sure to benefit from further mentoring. Chanoa was...