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 Melody Courage:
What do the recent announcements of cancelled 2020/21 opera seasons mean for your professional future?
“Thankfully nothing has been fully cancelled for me, rather just shuffled to next season. Due to some date shifts, I may not be able to perform everything that was originally booked for 20/21, but I am still grateful that I have engagements to look forward to. As much as this pandemic has caused anxiety about an uncertain future, my mentality has shifted more to embrace the possibility of the new kinds of opportunities that lie ahead. Opportunities to sing and be able to share my art, but on a different platform. As stressful as it may be, we have to be adaptable to the unknown, as the new normal we adjust to one week, becomes different the next.”
How much time have you spent considering a new career?
“This pandemic has definitely encouraged me to look at my life under a magnifying glass, exploring where I am in my life right now. My family, as always, is the most important thing to me, and they have given me so much love and support throughout my career, from the early days to now. While I did not choose an easy career, and it can certainly be a rollercoaster, I have always strived to perform, and will continue to pursue a performing career, as it is a big part of who I am. Like many opera singers and performers, it has never been my only career, or source of income. I will continue on much like I have in the past, but with this little forced pause on performing for this year.”
What plans, singing or otherwise, do you have for the coming season?
“I have a lot of things to look forward to next year! First, I have a recital at UBC in March that will be a livestreamed event. I will be singing with pianist Tina Chang, and it will be my first performance since the pandemic closed down our world last March. I have selected some of my favourite rep to sing, so it will be a thrill to finally be on stage again after a whole year! My debut as Marzelline in Calgary Opera’s production of Beethoven’s Fidelio is a dream come true – I can’t wait to begin rehearsals with everyone next season! It will be my first time performing with Calgary Opera, and working with Bramwell Tovey, featuring a stellar cast, so I am beyond excited for this!
“I have also joined with my wonderful colleagues Marion Newman, Deantha Edmunds, Rebecca Cuddy and Rose-Ellen Nichols on a project. Our goal is to secure enough funding to highlight some of the brilliant Indigenous talent and stories being told through the operatic medium in recent years. My agent Kathy, at Domoney Artists Management, is also creating some recording/digital projects that will be released soon. It’s a brave new digital world for everyone now!”