Shikara Ringdahl

Shikara Ringdahl. Photo: WinkiPoP Media

An Interview with Shikara Ringdahl


Shikara was a 2018 Finalist in The Sydney Eisteddfodd Opera Scholarship (35 and under). In this interview Shikara animatedly explains the story behind her initial motivation and love for opera as a 9-year-old self and talks about the female supporters, who quelled her doubts and encouraged her along her singing journey. 

What inspired your passion for opera?

It’s funny, I actually decided I wanted to be an opera singer at the age of 9, but it wasn’t until I was 15 that I finally sat through a full live opera, and when I did I hated it because I had built up this grand, noble vision of what it should be like and by the time I saw it in the flesh I was like, “well that was rubbish.” Thankfully by then I just loved the music too much to allow that bad experience (and many other boring productions that followed) to dampen my love and enthusiasm for the art form.

what inspired you to start singing? 

When I was 9 years old I was obsessed with adventure novels and really wanted to be some sort of noble knight. At the time I think it was either Tom Jones or Rod Stewart being knighted by the Queen and it was quite controversial, but 9 year old me was like, “wait, you can still be knighted in this day and age? Can women be knighted? What are they called?” It took me a little while longer to figure that bit out, but I remember picking up an album of Joan Sutherland’s that had been lying around the house and being like, “Dame Joan Sutherland?” and quickly clocking on to the fact that there were also CDs of this other opera singer called Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and that maybe this opera thing was going to be my quick ticket to becoming the knight I always wanted to be. And fortunately it turned out I could also hold a tune, and that I also just really loved opera.

Who inspires you and why? 

I’ve been really fortunate to have some amazing women in my life help me and believe in me when I’ve found it hard to believe in myself, and I think those are the most inspiring people you can ever come across. Norma Marschke, my amazing coach in Brisbane, whose ears I trust implicitly with my sound has supported me since the day I met her. My teacher Lisa Gasteen, who has been an amazing mentor and at times hander of tissues, and of course my mother, who never doubted for second that I wasn’t serious when I announced I wanted to be an opera singer when I was 9.

Which other performers do you most like to listen to, and why?  

I’m obsessed with the sound of the human voice, so basically re-discovering pre-war singers is one my ridiculously nerdy hobbies. Outside of that I listen to Prince, Kimbra, Janelle Monae, Anohni (formerly Antony and the Johnsons), Nina Simone, Nick Cave, and way too many others to list. All of them are phenomenal musicians with something different to communicate, as well as consummate and engaging performers.

What is the best piece of performance advice you've ever heard?

Acting is reacting.

What do you do when you’re not singing?

Think about singing. Chase sunsets and continue thinking about singing.