Man of the tenor

While at the Jamnabai Narsee School in Vile Parle, Amar Muchhala as a child was more into Hindustani classical music. He even studied to play the harmonium. Naturally then, he never dreamt that one day, he would pursue a career in Western classical music, that too as an opera-singing tenor.

After shows in various cities abroad, Muchhala will finally fulfil his dream of performing in his home town under the baton of the Symphony Orchestra of India conductor Evgeny Bushkov. “Mr Khushroo Santook, chairman of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), was very keen that I sing here,” says the tenor. “It will be my first time with Evgeny, and I am looking forward to it. We have had elaborate discussions on the concert repertoire.” The programme will include compositions by Piotr Tchaikovsky, Pietro Mascagni, Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi and Jules Massenet.

How did the transition from the Indian harmonium to opera singing come about? “I got into Western classical music while I went for my undergraduate studies in business management and French literature to the US,” Muchhala explains. “I was part of the college choir and soon decided to pursue music and studied at the Guildhall Music of Music and Drama, London.” Muchhala would spend hours listening to the recordings of Carlo Bergonzi, Jussi Bjorling, Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo. “I was fascinated by the sheer power of their voice and their ability to produce it,” says the tenor. “It was never a conscious decision to pursue opera but teachers encouraged me as my voice sits rather high.”

According to Muchhala, it takes an average of six years of training to become an opera singer. “There are voice classes, aural coaching, music theory lessons, Solfège, piano classes, French song, German lieder classes… the works.” Mucchala’s choice of repertory is based on instinct rather than popularity of compositions. “I try to choose pieces that define my voice and personality. More importantly, I need to be able to communicate with whatever I am singing.”

Though now based in London, the tenor spends a lot of time travelling to perform. “I also try and come to Mumbai as much as possible,” he says. “I belong to a Gujarati business family, and they are elated at my progress. My grandfather was the proudest person when he first heard me perform in London.” The singer is extremely happy with the growing interest in Western classical music in India hoping to perform soon all over the country.

Besides music, what else excites him? Mucchala responds, “I have this new-found joy for vintage Polaroid cameras and analogue photography. It relaxes me.” That and French literature really does go well with his musical personality, one guesses. Surely, Mumbai's opera lovers will be in for a fantastic set of concerts soon.

Amar Muchhala will perform this evening at the Experimental Theatre, NCPA, at 7 p.m. and on Monday July 10 at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu at 8 p.m. Visit bookmyshow for details.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 5:02:37 AM |

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