About Shauntai Batzke

Wiradjuri Soprano Shauntai Batzke will lead the choir

In 2016, Wiradjuri Soprano Shauntai Batzke will make her Sydney Opera House debut with Short Black Opera’s 5th season of Pecan Summer. A developing artist with Short Black Opera Company, Australia’s first and only Indigenous opera company, Shauntai was the proud recipient of the 2014 and 2015 Harold Blair Scholarship with the Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust.

Most recently, Shauntai was asked to sing as the Soprano for the inaugural Directors Workshop at Lyric Opera Melbourne and in February 2016 was the featured singer for Native Dignity at the State Library of Victoria as part of Blak & Bright Festival.

In July 2015, Shauntai had the privilege of singing at the inauguration of the new Governor of Victoria, the Honourable Linda Dessau AM at Government House in Melbourne. She also participated in the ‘Canto De Las Americas’ vocal workshops at the Belle Arti Center for the Arts, New York. After intensive training with industry leaders from The Metropolitan Opera House, Shauntai performed at the Steinway & Sons showroom, New York. Shauntai is planning to return to New York again in 2016 for further training.

Shauntai is an established Inspirational and Gospel singer/songwriter and from 2009 has been a regular singer on Wesley Impact TV, Channel 9 & ACC Foxtel. In 2012, Shauntai was featured in Archie Roach’s album as part of the Gospel ensemble Into the Bloodstream and in the official video clip of Song to Sing from that same album. Shauntai made her operatic debut in 2010 in Pecan Summer, written by Deborah Cheetham AO. She featured in the role of “Old Alice” in the subsequent three seasons of the opera, in 2011, 2012 & 2014. Shauntai sang in a master class with world-renowned répétiteur Malcolm Martineau in 2013 and was a semi finalist for The APRA professional development award for songwriting. In 2014, Shauntai completed her Bachelor of Music at the Melbourne Conservatorium, University of Melbourne. Other productions include The Beginning of Nature, at WOMADelaide 2016 with Australian Dance Theatre; RICERCAR, Present Tense Ensemble; Fidelio, Melbourne Opera; Showboat, The Production Company and Corrugation Road, Black Swan Theatre.

About Deborah Cheetham AO

Deborah Cheetham AO

Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator has been a familiar voice in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years.

In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Deborah was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance.

Short Black Opera Café, Death Scenes and Drama Queens and ‘Til The Black Lady Sings were early successes for Deborah combining her talents as a writer, performer and entrepreneur. ‘Til the Black Lady Sings has touched audiences in London, New York, Eastern Europe and around Australia for almost a decade.

Commissioned to write and perform a one-woman play for the Olympic Arts Festival Wimmin’s Business series, Deborah gave the premiere performance of her first major work at the Sydney Opera House in 1997. White Baptist Abba Fan was to dominate Deborah’s career the next five years and became the vehicle for her international début.

In 2009, Deborah established Short Black Opera as a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous opera singers. The following year she produced the premier of her first opera Pecan Summer. This landmark work is Australia’s first Indigenous opera and has been a vehicle for the development on a new generation of Indigenous opera singers. In 2016 Pecan Summer will head to the Sydney Opera House for a record breaking 5th season.

In March 2015 Deborah Cheetham AO was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.