Profile: Nicholas Sharratt, tenor, and the Portsmouth Choral Union

Nicholas is performing as the Evangelist in Chilcott’s St John Passion at the Portsmouth Choral Union’s concert at St Mary’s Portsea on Saturday 16 March.

What are you looking most forward to when performing at this concert?

The Chilcott  St John Passion is a piece that I was unfamiliar with, and I always enjoy the process of discovering a new piece. I like the way he uses traditional music for the choir within a new setting of the text. It is always a huge pleasure to return to sing with my friends at Portsmouth Choral Union. Their conductor, David Gostick, always finds these interesting pieces to perform, alongside with the more familiar works.

Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career?

I am thankful to my first music teacher for seeing something in me and recommending I take singing lessons, and to my first singing teacher Constance Rose (Connie to her friends but always Miss Rose to me); she was a no-nonsense old-school type of teacher and I learned a lot from her.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

I had to learn to “fly” for a part in Peter Pan. I was singing the part of John Darling and there was a scene where we had to sing whilst in a flying harness being whirled around. I did wonders for my fear of heights!

What are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

I am full-time member of the chorus of the Royal Opera in Covent Garden, and being part of a world-class ensemble every day has many pinch-me moments. There are, though, many instances where the staging, costume and lighting provides huge challenges to maintain vocal cohesion with a large group of singers. 

Are there any composers for whom you feel a particular affinity?

I love Britten and Puccini: they both wrote for the theatre and their operas are always incredibly powerful when given a good production. I also hugely admire Stuart Macrae and Jonathan Dove; I am fortunate to have given world premieres of their work and they are composers in a similar vein – although the sound world is very different.

Which works do you think you are able to perform best, and why?

I enjoy works – whether sacred or secular – with a strong narrative, where the text is set to music incredibly well. I was lucky to perform Britten’s St. Nicolas with Portsmouth Choral Union last year; it’s such a good piece.

What are your most memorable experiences, either as a performer, composer or listener?

Obviously solo debuts at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House are special and memories I cherish. On the opera stage, singing Flute in Midsummer Night’s Dream at Opera North with the most perfect cast and hearing the reaction of the audience at the curtain call every night will always be a highlight; but I once sang Haydn’s Creation in Estonia, and afterwards this huge, huge bearded man came up to me in the street afterwards with tears in his eyes and lifted me clean off my feet in this enormous bear hug, saying “thank you, singer, thank you.” Music can be incredibly powerful and is wilfully ignorant of borders or language. I love that.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

You will need talent and a strong work ethic, and luck!

How would you define success as a musician?

Success is a personal thing; it means something different to everyone. Find meaning in the big moments and the small ones, too. They all matter. But ultimately, if you can earn a living from music, you’re winning in my book.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

I hope I’ll still be singing for my supper.

About Nicholas

Tenor Nicholas Sharratt studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio. He made his Royal Opera debut in the 2016/17 Season singing in The Nose ensemble. Roles include Camille (The Merry Widow), Flute (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Pedrillo (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) for Opera North; Ernesto (Don Pasquale) and Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia) for ETO; Rudolph (Euryanthe) and First Prisoner (Fidelio) for Glyndebourne Festival; Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore) for Grange Park Opera; Brighella (Ariadne auf Naxos) for Garsington Opera; Lippman (Of Thee I Sing) for Bregenz Festival; Ferrando (Così fan tutte) in Tokyo; Nero (L’incoronazione di Poppea) for Early Opera Company; Richard (The Devil Inside), Nanki-Poo (The Mikado) and Frederic (Pirates of Penzance) for Scottish Opera and D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. Recent performances include Angel 3 (Written on Skin) under George Benjamin (Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus), First Priest (Die Zauberflöte) and Giuseppe (La Traviata) for The Royal Opera. He joined the Royal Opera Chorus in 2017.

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