On the Couch with Rinat Shaham

OA Rinat Shaham - photo by Fadil BerishaWho is Rinat Shaham?
I’m Carmen to a lot of people. But the truth is, I’m an opera singer, or more precisely, a performing artist longing to portray truthfully whatever role touches the heart. Carmen is certainly one of them.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I’d adopt several pets and volunteer with animals, if I could! Besides music, my husband, family and close friends, animals are my BIG love!

Who inspires you and why?
People inspire me, and thank goodness I get to meet and re-meet people all the time! The centuries-old stories that I play and sing on stage are always inspired by real, current people and real stories that I’ve encountered during my own history. I also get to meet wonderful cast members, and all of the amazing people behind the scenes. This always changes slightly the angle of my vision. There’s always a new sight, scent, colour and texture that allows me to get renewed. That’s inspiration to me!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’d add mandatory positive music and mediation to the daily menu of the earth’s population.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Holiday is where my home is. Travel is when I work. Holiday is where everything I’ve accumulated in life that matters to me – love, friendships, a routine (local gym, supermarket, cooking) – is there and not going anywhere. That’s when I can really relax!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Which town?! I’ve been constantly wandering the world for the past decade or so. Every city has a special place I’d take my friends to, and it’s actually never a tourist attraction. Generally, it’s a hole-in-the-wall bar or restaurant that no one knows about, except for the locals.

What are you currently reading?
I’d partially be lying if I said anything else but my Facebook feed! But, at the moment, in between rehearsals I am busy reading (and translating) a beginner’s level Spanish book called Historias breves para leer – as I am trying to learn the language!

What are you currently listening to?
I love to put on YouTube playlists of whatever mood I am in or hoping to be in… Ambient radio stations, entire lists from the 80s (remember Tears for Fears?), good flamenco music (just for some Carmen inspiration), or Arab belly dancing compositions (I just want to dance to it!), or jazz for rainy days or good old Jobim or Brazilian classics. Whatever can put me in a positive way, I will listen to it!

Happiness is?
This might sound corny by I deeply believe that every moment in this life is happiness. I was watching a documentary on a Buddhist monetary where they have a gong sound every 15 minutes to make them stop whatever they are doing and remember the present moment. That is such a beautiful idea. That is happiness. Now, is (or at least needs to be) happiness.

What does the future hold for you?
Carmen knows what the future holds for me… Me, not so much… BUT, I can certainly tell you what I hope it holds for me: gracefully and healthily get better, wiser and more interesting, so I can still be an inspiration while serving the public, and still be useful after I am done. I wish to sing all the roles and songs that make our soul remember what we are, and give and receive a little sweet dent in our boring routine through music, to remind us of now, just like that Buddhist gong.

Rinat stars as the titular role in Opera Australia’s production of Carmen at the Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House until 27 February, when Sian Pendry will reprise this famous role until 23 March 2018. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Rinat Shaham – photo by Fadil Berisha