What is something you’ve lost to the pandemic?
Étienne: “Our Werther at The Met was cancelled the day before the general performance. I was looking forward to performing with Joyce DiDonato and Piotr Beczała, both of whom were singing brilliantly. Thaïs would have been great for Nicole and I to sing together again at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and now I won’t be making my role debut in La forza del destino at the Deutsche Oper Berlin either.”
Nicole: “My contract with the Royal Opera House to reprise the role of Mimì in La bohème. Our son Noah was only six months old when we created the production, so I was really looking forward to going back and revisiting. We lost concert performances of Thaïs with the Berlin Deutsche Oper too. It was going to be a great chance for us to perform together in a rarely done piece.”
What have you done with your unexpected time, that makes you grateful?
Nicole: “We have had the luxury of being in our apartment in Paris for much longer than anticipated this year, so being at home is always a bonus—extra time to spend with our son is never taken for granted. (Even if confinement with a three-year-old can be a challenge!) We also decided to add a family member, so we have beautiful Lily, our new puppy keeping us busy. Professionally I have used the time to set up a fund called Freelance Artist Relief Australia to help artists who have lost all of their contracts due to the virus—it will help pay bills/rent etc. I’m really proud of the response so far, and happy to be able to help. I’m very grateful to have had the time to explore this avenue of philanthropy within the arts.”
Étienne: “I set myself a challenge to write a song per day for the first 14 days of lockdown. Every day I would start looking for an idea, and generally by lunchtime I would know which direction the song was going to take. I loved the days that Nicole joined in and sang with me, and there are quite a few of them that I’m really proud of. We are missing so much art, culture and live music right now, I was just happy to share. I’m a homebody at heart, so I’m grateful to have the time to be in our apartment as a family.”
Jenna is the editor and co-creator of Schmopera. She also writes for The Globe and Mail and Opera Canada. She’s a pianist and vocal coach, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera.