TIU’s Yesudasan appears in production at Royal Opera House in Mumbai
Trinity CommunicationsAugust 27, 2018
Students returning to Trinity International University for the fall semester will talk a lot about their summer break experiences, but Timmy Yesudasan’s story will turn some heads.
The junior vocal performance and music education major from Coimbatore, India performed in Joseph Haydn’s La Fedeltà Premiata at the newly restored Royal Opera House in Mumbai, India’s only surviving opera house. It was just the second major performance since the facility reopened in October 2016.
Not only did Yesudasan appear onstage with the chorus, he also understudied the main role during the opera’s three-day run in early August.
“It was really fun working with different people who have much more experience than I do,” said Yesudasan, who added that some of the most valuable and memorable moments of the experience came during the four-week rehearsal schedule rather than during the actual performances.
“This gave me an opportunity to meet professionals who have studied in different parts of the world.”
For example, Yesudasan completed two vocal technique sessions with famed operatic soprano Patricia Rozario, a British citizen who was born in Mumbai and has a keen interest in finding talented Indian vocalists.
“We have some great natural talent in India,” Rozario told The Indian Express in October 2016, “and we hope to develop it to a world-class level so that our Indian singers are able to sing in the Opera Houses around the world.”
Rozario is professor of voice at the Royal College of Music in London, a school where some of Yesudasan’s voice professors teach.
In 2014, Paul Dowbekin, a former examiner at Trinity College London, provided an all-expenses-paid, three-week trip to London so Yesudasan could take more in-depth vocal instruction. Access to voice teachers is rare in India, even in larger cities.
“I’ve come to know Timmy as a student hungry for any and all opportunities to grow as a musician,” TIU assistant professor of music Brian Reichenbach said. “As a talented vocalist, it’s no surprise to me that he would land this role that was an outstanding educational and cultural experience.”
Performers in the La Fedeltà Premiata cast must pay close attention to Italian diction and pronunciation, so Yesudasan also connected in rehearsals with famed Italian conductor Massimo Taddia.
“He would say it and we would repeat it, and he’d pick out the smallest mistakes and correct us and help us through it,” Yesudasan said. “It was really nice to work on Italian diction with an Italian.”
The experience is similar to an aspiring baseball player practicing with a major league team. The performance attracted media attention, and the cast sat for an interview on Indian television.
“As Timmy’s voice teacher I was thrilled for him to be able to have this opportunity.” said John Hacker, an adjunct music instructor at TIU. “What made this even more special was that he was able to be a part of a relatively new company in his home country of India. All-around an exciting opportunity!”
Yesudasan dreams of becoming an opera star.
“I would love to be an opera singer for the rest of my life, and to have a steady job doing that,” he said with a smile. “It does give me an advantage when I audition for another opera because I have worked with wonderful professionals.”
The first connections with those professionals came before entering Trinity International University in early 2017. Yesudasan took master classes with instructors from the United Kingdom who remembered both his talent and his Indian heritage when the time came to choose an all-Indian cast for La Fedeltà Premiata in Mumbai.
Despite these connections, Yesudasan lacked a well-rounded musical education that would enable him to both receive personalized, regular vocal instruction and teach him how to educate others.
His father, who is on faculty at South India Baptist Bible College and Seminary, urged him to look at Christ-centered institutions in the United States.
“I was looking up universities and I prayed, saying, ‘If I see these things on a website, I will apply.’ And so I saw everything I needed on Trinity’s website,” Yesudasan recalls. “As soon as I sent the application (to TIU), I felt a peace that I didn’t have for one and a half years.”
“Having the chance to work with a professional opera company as a young singer is of course a great experience,” Hacker said. “Already a hard-working, dedicated student, last semester he worked even harder to prepare his music for this summer and grew through the challenge.”
Because Yesudasan is working toward a dual major in vocal performance and music education, he will remain in school at TIU until 2020. Becoming a part of a professional opera production enhances his studies in Deerfield.
“Being part of a Western classical opera in his home country captures his passion for sharing what he has learned at Trinity to serve others,” Reichenbach said.
His journey through the opera experience went smoothly, but there are times when international students experience logistical glitches that bring stress and even doubt into their minds. Yesudasan, for example, received his travel visa only four days before the start of classes at Trinity in early 2017.
“God reminded me that if He is to take me somewhere, He would provide and I need not worry about it,” Yesudasan said. “And it was that peace that gave me confidence.”