Amid all the fear, grief, and worry of the last few weeks, I’ve realised something positive: opera singers are uniquely placed to weather the Covid-19 ‘storm.’ All our training, experience, struggles – all the uncertainty we have to live with to pursue a career in the performing arts – has finally become truly useful!
(Please read, as it was written, with tongue placed firmly in cheek. Yes, the situation is AWFUL. Frightening. And it is terrible to have all our upcoming work cancelled, and not have any idea when we will be allowed, or whether we will even ever be invited, to get back to the theatre. But. Apocalyptic visions put to one side – and we truly can’t control these things, so let’s not lose our sanity – we should take a moment to gloat. After all, our careers have prepped us – better than anyone – to deal with this.)
1. Singers are used to ‘working from home.’
We do it all the time. We learn our roles. We prep our audition pieces. We keep our technique strong. We (*ahem*) ‘rest’ between engagements. Many of us teach, handle our admin, etc. – at home. Most of us already have a home studio/office set up, and have already figured out the work/life balance stuff. (Hopefully.)
2. Singers are quite good at keeping themselves occupied in an isolated, confined space.
When we are working away from home, in one of the world’s top opera houses (or even in one of the not-quite-top ones), we are likely to be in a strange city, alone. We tend to see quite a bit of the inside of our hotel rooms or digs. (And airport departure lounges.) This is why I knit. And subscribe to Netflix. Yes, there’s always shopping and restaurants and sightseeing…but you don’t want to spend your entire fee before you earn it. Besides, you have to SING, so you mustn’t go around exhausting yourself (once worked with a tenor who thought it would be a good idea to hike up a mountain the day of a show – it was not), and exposing yourself to germs, which brings me to…
3. Singers are world champions at avoiding rhinoviruses.
Masks? Gloves? Hand washing? Pah! Child’s play. We singers take germ paranoia to a new level. After all, if we get sick, we don’t sing, and if we don’t sing, we don’t get paid. So we’ve flown halfway around the world just to sit in a hotel room. Knitting, while watching Netflix. No thanks, could have done that at home.