Hitting The High Notes

WHEN DR RITU GUPTA ISN’T RUNNING HER SPECIALIST DERMATOLOGIST PRACTICE, SHE IS HITTING THE HIGH NOTES AS A MEZZO-SOPRANO SINGER.

For Sydney dermatologist Dr Ritu Gupta, medicine and singing are integrally intertwined, influencing important aspects in both her professional and personal life. “Medicine and singing may seem very different, but both have helped me in their respective ways in all facets of my career thus far. Singing means that I am comfortable with public speaking in front of audiences of 1,300 GPs, educating them about cosmetic dermatology. Medicine has helped me to perform under pressure and be calm in a singing-performance situation,” she says.

Dr Gupta is a high mezzo-soprano who counts being a finalist in the City of Sydney Opera Awards as one of her career highlights.

In February 2017, Dr Gupta will be performing a solo opera recital to raise money for rheumatoid arthritis, a charity that is close to her heart. “My mother, a doctor herself, was unfortunately diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 36. I hope to aid future research into this still-mysterious and devastating autoimmune disease,” she says.

“I will be singing a range of Italian and French arias, a German song cycle by Schumann called Frauenliebe und Leben (A Woman’s Life and Loves) and some English folk songs and a few lighter, more comic pieces too.”
From singing in school musicals to leading the Sydney University Medical Review for three years running, Dr Gupta discovered her passion for singing at a young age. “I’m from a family of singers and my mother in particular has a lovely voice. Initially my first love was musical theatre, but my first teacher explained that if you learn classical technique and can sing opera, you can sing anything.”

It was Dr Gupta’s early years as a doctor when she started to really focus on singing. “I only worked
in medicine part time and the rest of the time I studied languages, acting and singing. It was at this time that I sang in competitions and eisteddfods. It was a wonderful time, but at the end of it I had to decide whether to audition for an opera school in the UK.”

“Ultimately, to give up a career like medicine, having invested so much time and effort in training, was too much to give up.”

What’s on the cards for the future? “I do plan to audition for companies such The Rockdale Opera Company and Chatswood Musical Society again in the future. One step at a time!”

When asked how she manages juggling a passion for singing with a busy dermatological practice, Dr Gupta says, “It’s difficult, but I am a great believer in raising the bar high for oneself and then stepping
up to meet one’s challenges. When I sing, it doesn’t matter how tired I am – it’s as if I have taken flight and been transported to another place. To hear the sound that one can make with practice and training is such an amazing gift. It’s very humbling.” AMP