When most people of her age love to be in their comfort zones, a 20-year old Economics student of Lady Shri Ram College has shown a lot of promise to carve a niche for herself in an area mostly uncharted for most of the Odias.
Meet the first opera singer from Odisha--Aastha Mohapatra who has soared above the instrumental line and adapted to the dramatic demands of theatre shows.
Aastha has so far received more than 50 awards by performing opera songs on various national and international platforms including the special mention award in the International Art Song Festival organised by KMMC Chennai and Trinity Laban London in 2021. Aastha is also a member of the Lyric Ensemble of Delhi, a classical, jazz and broadway ensemble and she has been performing across the city in different shows and recitals.
Aastha, who is also a meritorious student, started her journey originally with Hindustani Classical Music in 2008 when she was all of six. Three years later, she was selected as a member of the prestigious Mozart Children’s Choir of India, an initiative started by the Austrian Embassy and Pandit Ravi Shankar, and got exposure to Western classical music and opera. She has since been honing her skills in this art form.
“Opera is such a beautiful art form. I fell in love with it from the very first minute and it was like love at first sight for me. Opera includes drama and music and is just such a passionate form of artistic expression. The techniques used in opera enable a singer to become a vocal athlete, providing a voice with incredible strength, vocal flexibility and consistency, even allowing one to sing without a microphone,” said Aastha while speaking to Odishatv.in.
“The music is just so intoxicating and intimate. It conducts emotions within the audiences, driving them to joy and tears. Really, it’s an experience. Years back, operas would be something that the rich in Europe would enjoy primarily. But over time, it has become a scene for everyone. It is definitely much more accessible with the advent of internet and online concerts,” she said.
Aastha is currently a student of Soprano Situ Singh Buehler and she has been training with her for past five years.
“She’s my vocal coach and my inspiration. I look up to her so much along with vocal coaching. She has also worked with different professionals across the world from time to time as part of different workshops and master classes,” Aastha said.
The Odia opera singer sings in English, French, German and Italian languages.
“I am fluent in French and have picked up a bit of German along the way. However, singing in a different language is an art in itself. I love taking it up as a challenge and am discovering new languages and cultures through it,” said Astha, who has recently got acceptances to the University of Oxford.
Aastha avers that music is her life’s purpose.
“It is my career of choice, my passion and my motivation to become a better person every single day. I would like to pursue it seriously and set higher goals to become a better musician with time,” she said.
“I love singing and I wish to share this joy with the world. I believe that music is a catalyst for social change and through my singing I want to inspire new musicians, create new initiatives, raise funds, develop projects and contribute to society,” she signed off.