If music can run in one’s blood, Oliver Heuzenroeder has a symphony flowing through his.
The 2023 Melba Opera Trust artist, and Ryman Healthcare Opera Scholarship recipient, was immersed in the world of classical music from a young age.
“My mother is a cellist in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra,” Oliver said.
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“Classical FM Sydney would be on in the car, and we’d go to the (Sydney) Opera House to watch mum play.”
While he “hated” cello lessons, The Sydney Children’s Choir and Gondwana Voices gave Oliver a taste for the stage on which he would later shine.
In 2012 his passion for opera was ignited when he joined the Children’s Chorus of Opera Australia’s production of Carmen.
“I think I fell in love with the audience applause,” he said.
“As a 12-year-old kid you come out and face this sea of black and then there is a huge applause.
“What a rush.”
Since graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music (Griffith University) in 2022, Oliver’s developing career as a baritone has had many highs.
Awarded the Joyce Campbell-Lloyd Scholarship for overseas study, Oliver traveled to London and auditioned at several prominent music schools.
“Shortly before going to London, I got an email saying I had been accepted by the Melba Opera Trust, which was amazing,” he said.
In September he will commence two years postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Music.
“Ask any singer, if they have a contract at an opera house, or a place to study for the next two years, and they will tell you it’s amazing.
"It's amazing to have that stability and to know the direction you're heading in,” Oliver said.
Artist video supplied by Melba Opera Trust.
Being one of just seven people named as a Melba Opera Trust artist and the 2023 Ryman Healthcare Opera Scholar was the culmination of years of hard work.
“I’ve been looking at Melba (Opera Trust) for a number of years, but you have to make sure you are ready for something like this,” he said.
“It’s required patience in developing maturity and learning how to conduct yourself.”
The Ryman scholarship would cover the Trust’s comprehensive program, including language lessons, one-on-one vocal coaching, and public speaking.
“The Ryman scholarship has been fantastic,” he said.
“I’ve used my funds mainly for extra vocal coaching and language lessons.
“Only now can I pick up a piece of music and read the German, or the Italian or the French accurately and sing it accurately, and that’s taken years.”
And while he knows years of hard work await him, he has his sights firmly set on the world’s top opera houses.
“You’ve got to be your own hype man, put in the work and turn up and enjoy it,” he said.
His recent achievements had offered a chance to reflect on how far he had come.
“There are a couple of Sydney Children’s Choir alumni who are now opera singers in London,” Oliver said.
“I feel like ‘oh my gosh, you were the person singing the solo in the Christmas concert when I was just in the choir’.
“But now I’m on that journey as well.”
Ryman named its second Wheelers Hill retirement village ‘Nellie Melba’ after working closely with the opera trust to secure the blessing of the beloved opera singer’s family in the UK.
As part of the partnership, Ryman sponsored the creation of a scholarship.
Oliver is the fourth recipient of the scholarship.