The world’s a stage for Suzanne Shakespeare

October 14, 2016


With a name like Shakespeare, it’s no surprise that little Suzanne was destined to be a performer.

But it was music and opera rather than drama that would be her career goals.

Recently resettled in Australia with husband Andrew and baby Tilly, Suzanne has spent the past seven years forging a successful career as an operatic soprano in Britain and Europe.

Suzanne’s extensive singing achievements have included famous Mozart roles, the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, and major soprano solos on oratorio stages across Britain.

Her first musical memory was sitting under her music teacher mother’s grand piano. Schooldays were spent at Melbourne’s Caulfield Grammar where she threw herself into every singing and musical group available. 

Music is such a part of Suzanne that she never considered doing anything else.

‘I always felt that music was where I belonged. My only problem was deciding which instrument to focus on, but I solved that by doing them all!’ she told Warcry.

Working hard on her music led to qualifications in singing and piano, as well as studying the viola in her Bachelor of Music with Honours at Melbourne University, which she followed with a Masters of Music Performance in piano at the Victorian College of the Arts. 

London and the Royal College of Music beckoned, and Suzanne and sweetheart Andrew headed off for her to achieve 
an Artist Diploma in Opera Performance in 2008.

While a student in Melbourne, Suzanne was a choral scholar at Melbourne University’s Trinity College, so faith-based singing was a big part of her student years.

Coming from a Salvo background, music was always a big part of her life.

‘We always went to The Salvation Army in Clayton. My grandpa lived around the corner. In fact, we are fourth generation army, if not more!’ Suzanne said.

Suzanne and Tilly attend the Waverley Corps (church) where Andrew is a soldier.

‘We have incredibly strong faith. God leads every moment of every day for us. The good, the bad, it always comes back to God and how I can work for him and with him,’ Suzanne said.

When asked by Warcry to nominate her biggest personal success in her singing career, her answer is immediate.

‘Performing as the soprano soloist in the BBC Proms London at the Royal Albert Hall on live television and radio!’ she enthused.

Suzanne was enjoying her roles with English National Opera, Scottish Opera and Opera Bohemia and Opera North, when she and Andrew were thrilled to find that they were to become parents.

‘I had an incredible career in the UK and abroad, but we returned to Melbourne for our daughter. We had no plans to return until she arrived, but then our lives and goals completely changed. Melbourne is a wonderful place to grow up and to share her life with those dear is very important to us,’ Suzanne says.

‘And the UK will always be there!’

Suzanne and Andrew have just cele­brated being together for 20 years and married for 13. With baby Tilly turning one this month, Suzanne is clear about her priorities for the future.

‘I have some concerts in the diary, and I teach and coach singing and piano. All of which allows me to spend as much time as possible with my little princess!’ 


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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Vol. 139, No. 14 // 11 April 2020

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