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Two strings to her bow

DUBBY HENRY
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2014
Shaan Antunovich
Elizabeth Jury, Elizabeth J Photography
BRIGHT FUTURE: Education Action manager and opera singer Shaan Antunovich wants to combine her two passions in one job.

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Opera singing and alternative education might seem worlds apart.

But the two jobs are the perfect combination for Shaan Antunovich.

The classically trained mezzo-soprano is a rising star on the musical circuit, with a bachelor of performing arts, soloing at Christmas in the Park and a professional tour in The Pirates of Penzance under her belt.

But the 24-year-old is equally passionate about her day job at Papakura's Education Action, which provides free education as an alternative to school.

Students can work towards NCEA Levels 1 and 2 and national certificates in hospitality, retail, and sport and recreation.

"The kids come from all different backgrounds. There are young parents, or kids that just didn't like or weren't engaged at school. Kids that are ‘at-risk' - we've got all sorts. Our doors are open to anyone."

Ms Antunovich has just been asked to return to her childhood home of Whangarei as guest singer at the annual Opera in the Garden.

Themed An Afternoon in Paris, the concert will feature songs from Carmen, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Starring in the March 8 concert is a dream come true for Ms Antunovich, who has been singing since she was 13.

"Ever since I was little my goal was to come back and be a guest artist there. So to do it this year is awesome."

She would love to combine her two passions some day, teaching the arts to young kids who are not engaged with school.

It should not be too hard, because South Auckland has "lots of natural-born talent" - but she wants to give singing a couple more years first.

Despite her dreams of stardom she is realistic about her options as an artist.

"In New Zealand artists need to have a backup plan - and I'm lucky I am so passionate about my backup plan."

Coming to work every day is a joy, she says.

"It's amazing when you see the change in people, especially when they graduate."

Often it is their first qualification, she says.

"Graduation day is one my favourite days. I've never been at one where I haven't cried."

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- Papakura Courier

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