Don Bemrose

How many rugby league fans dream of singing the national anthem at a State of Origin game? Don Bemrose did.

Maybe he would have been playing as well, but a spear tackle and temporary paralysis as a young teenager put paid to any chance of that happening.

Doctors advised against playing any contact sport again, so the Sunshine Coast youngster found solace in singing. When his grandmother, Aunty Ruth Hegarty, showed him a documentary about Australia's only other Indigenous opera singer, the late Harold Blair, Don found his calling. His dream was to emulate the feats of this inspirational man.

He studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and completed his Bachelor of Music (majoring in opera), at the Victorian College of Arts. He is still being taught by some of Australia's best singers and voice coaches. Opera Australia supports his career aspirations through its Indigenous development program.

Now, here he is in 2011, Australia's foremost male Aboriginal classical artist and living the life of his childhood dreams every day.

Don has a lead role in Pecan Summer, Australia's First Indigenous Opera, composed by soprano and Don's mentor, Deborah Cheetham. It premiered in Shepparton, Victoria, last October and is set for its Melbourne season in September 2011.

Don is a proud Gungarri man whose family hails from the Cherbourg Aboriginal community.

DESCRIPTION: Don Bemrose, Opera baritone