As Canada’s artists ready themselves for far-reaching cancellations in the 2020-21 opera season, Opera Canada is checking in. What is the ripple effect of an opera-free season? How many Canadians will call themselves professional artists in a year’s time? How bad has it gotten for freelancing individuals? And are there silver linings? We look for answers in our new series of Q&As, “What’s next?” Next up is soprano Lauren Margison:
What do the recent announcements of cancelled 2020/21 opera seasons mean for your professional future?
“The cancellations are devastating for so many, though it is clearly the necessary course of action to ensure the health and safety of the performers and audience. It’s frightening. It’s paralyzing. I can’t lie and try to spin it. This virus has taken so much from so many. However, I always try my best to search for the silver lining in all situations, and I think that more than ever we are understanding the importance of live performance, and the way it brings people together on a soulful level. We are all in this together, and we can rebuild together.”
How much time have you spent considering a new career?
“What I have spent time considering is not a new career, but ideas to bolster the specific set of skills possessed by an opera singer. I love this art form, and I am certainly not ready to jump ship. The greatest strength humans possess is adaptability, and I have already seen so many examples of that online and in smaller scale musical disseminations. It doesn’t mean that we are forgetting our goal of returning to live collaborative performance, but there is a heartening comfort in seeing the light creep through the cracks when we thought everything was shut tight. My somewhat silly little side project is a romantic murder mystery novel that I have been writing. It has been a surprisingly fulfilling pet project.”
What plans, singing or otherwise, do you have for the coming season?
“I am looking forward to the resources and structure provided by the online training and professional development program Highlands Opera Studio is offering this year which will be starting in a couple of weeks and will last for four weeks. Beyond that, I’ve been shying away from ‘plans’. Uncertainty still controls our lives, and I find that there is a heaviness that comes along with every cancelled ‘plan’. I am endeavouring to continue to keep my singing chops up, while focusing on my mental and physical health. The only plans I am making are ones that I can control; staying active, singing, writing, etc. Beyond that, I will take it day by day. I am extremely lucky and grateful for the support system of family and close friends who have kept me sane these past months, and I plan to try and return the favour to all of them as time marches on.”