Claire de Sévigné as Fiakermilli in Arabella, Opernhaus Zürich.
Claire de Sévigné as the Fiakermilli in Arabella, Opernhaus Zürich. Photo: Toni Suter.

In a special installment of our Quarantine Questions, we chat with coloratura soprano Claire de Sévigné about her whirlwind 48 hours out of Switzerland, and with her partner, David Bozzi, a paramedic with York Region Paramedic Services, about the combined value of the efforts made by both health care workers and artists.

What is something you’ve lost to the pandemic?

Claire: “Performances of the Fiakermilli in Arabella with Opernhaus Zürich, Clorinda in La Cenerentola with Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, which would have been Kent Nagano’s final concert with the orchestra.”

What have you done with your unexpected time, that makes you grateful?

Claire: “For fear of the borders being closed, I had to make a hard and quick decision to leave Switzerland practically over night! So I packed up my whole apartment within 48 hours to make it back to Canada in time. Now that I’m back home in Toronto I’m spending my time in other creative domains – like painting furniture! However, at a time like this, what I am most grateful for is being able to support my partner, who works as a paramedic in York Region. I’m grateful to be part of a health care worker’s life at a time like this and have an up close view of what really matters in life; like your health and your loved ones – really puts things into perspective. I’m grateful to be back in my home country and to be able to support someone who’s working at the front lines of it all as best I can right now.”

What do you think is the role of the arts during a global pandemic?

David: “I think the arts have always been an important part of a fulfilling and gratifying life. During this pandemic, I feel that the arts can provide hope, inspiration, and a refuge from the many difficulties we are all facing. Just as an opera about a tragic love story can portray great beauty, art has and will find the beauty in this pandemic. I love watching the videos that Claire shows me of Italians singing from their balconies and artists performing art songs and arias from their homes over social media.”

What do you want the public to know about what health care workers are facing every day?

David: “On any given shift, York Region Paramedic Services are faced with the possibility of being exposed to various infectious diseases, not just COVID-19. With the current pandemic we are operating at a risk level higher than the norm. We are approaching each call with a heightened need for safety for our patients and ourselves.

“We are relying on our community to understand when to call 911 so we may safely prepare to respond. It helps us understand how to approach each call mentally and to make sure we are wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment. Help us protect you. We are urging you to stay home, wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Only go out for essentials like groceries and medication.

“Together, we can get through this so we can get back to doing the things we love.”

David Bozzi, paramedic, and Claire de Sévigné, soprano.
David Bozzi, paramedic, and Claire de Sévigné, soprano.