Welcome to the new month of April. We had a sit down with one of Nigeria’s most talented, experienced and loved musician. He is arguably the best Opera singer and number one promoter of the Opera art in Nigeria. Our Musician of the Month is Mr. Joseph Oparamanuike, popularly referred to as “Mr. Tenor”. Mr. Joseph Oparamanuike is the head of Opera at MUSON. Enjoy!
1. Lets meet you. Your name and background (education, family, and career).
My name is Joseph Oparamanuike, I am from Imo State. First Degree: I studied Chemical Engineering at Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO). I have Diploma of ABRSM in Vocal Teaching and Licentiate of ABRSM in Singing. In my Graduate Studies, I have PGDip in Performance from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I have Master in Opera from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
2. What genre of music do you do and why?
I am a classical musician, with specialty in Opera music. This is because it is my calling.
3. What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
The love of sharing my musical gift with people is the most enjoyable part of my work.
4. What do you hate most?
In this line of work, I hate seeing talented musicians who refused to do much about their talents.
5. What drew you to the music industry?
My talent drew me into music. My motivation can be found in my quest of getting better than I am today.
6. What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far?
The biggest issue i have had to overcome was breaking into our society that doesn’t support the classical music art.
7. Can you give a brief of your journey in music?
My first with music was when I was 10 years old in St Peters Claver Seminary school in Okpala Imo State. I sang majorly as alto some times in treble in the choir through out my school. In 1995, I joined the youth choir in St. Joseph Catholic Ulakwo, Imo State, then became choir master in the senior choir in 1996. Joined the catholic choir in my second semester in the Federal University of Technology Owerri. During holidays, I usually alternated between my parish choir and chaplaincy choir. Attended my first competition with my parish choir in which we came 3rd position. I later won a lot of competitions with the chaplaincy choir. Became assistant choir master and later choir master of the chaplaincy choir. Had a lot of events and concert and played key roles up till my graduation. Also, I joined the Cororosa Choral during my final year as one of the conductors.
POST NYSC AND BEYOND
During NYSC, I got posted to Lagos. While in Lagos, I became choir master of St. Agnes Catholic Choir and Queen of Angel Catholic Choir, Maryland Lagos. Joined MUSON choir in 2003. Sang as tenor, won the talent hunt, now called Music Quest competition. My feat opened doors for me and gave me the statue of MUSON artiste.
In 2007, I joined MUSON as a Basic School teacher, took lots of MUSON examinations up to Grade 8, diploma passed with distinction. I later did ABRSM Diploma in Singing in 2009. In 2010, I did and passed Diploma of ABRSM in performance, LRSM in Singing and then Diploma in Vocal teaching. In all of these, I had the best results in West Africa.
I applied for my masters in performance and got a full scholarship into Royal Conservatoir of Scotland. Due to my interest in Opera, I auditioned for Opera, got in and ended up getting a PGD in Performance and Masters in Opera. Back to Nigeria, I registered the Comic Opera House, launched in September 2016. In all these, I was a part time staff at MUSON. I became full time as Opera Head at MUSON since 2018. We have done several Opera up to 10 since then. I look forward to furthering to Doctorate in music.
8. As the head of Opera at MUSON, what would you say are your biggest achievements?
My biggest achievement would not be in the number of operas but training a large young opera singers in Nigeria. Also, through my position, I have been able to create further opera awareness in Nigeria.
9. What is your educational journey in music so far?
In Singing, I started by taking ABRSM Grade 8 in singing with distinction. I proceeded to ABRSM Diploma in Singing (DipABRSM) then went ahead to ABRSM Licentiate in Singing (LRSM).
These gained me admission at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) and RCS Trust Fund full scholarship. I have earlier mentioned what I studied in RCS.
10. Tell us about Comic Opera House
The Comic Opera House is a small opera company that was founded in 2015 and launched in 2016 with a full production of Don Pasquale.
11. What is your average life like for you?
My average day is very musical and I must say I have great sense of humour.
12. Who are you inspired by?
13. What is your biggest achievement so far and what do you hope to achieve in the nearest future?
That would be training and influencing a lot of young singers in Nigeria then making over 10 opera productions in Nigeria.
14. Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans.
I have a lot of interactions with fans on social media and I am easy to reach on social media.
15. What is your favorite part about this line of work?
My favourite part being a musician are making music and sharing my gift with the world. My least favorite is doing a work of a thousand and one persons. This is because, in Opera houses there are a lot of personnel.
16. Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
We all do.
17. Have you ever had to deal with failure?
Ofcourse, there is no success without failure.
18. Tell me about your favorite performance venues?
Not in Nigeria. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Hall.
19 What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
It won’t be easy but you will surely get there with focus and commitment.
20. How do you balance career as a musician and family life?
My family loves classical music, so I get full support from them.
So there you go, hope you enjoyed our conversation with Mr. Tenor Joseph Oparamanuike, our Musician of the month? Drop your thoughts in the comment box.