Neil Craighead is impressive in his keeping-busy projects. Parenting, cooking, building canoes – the bass-baritone is living well in the moment, as he answers our Quarantine Questions:
Between mid-March and the present, how have you adjusted to this “new normal”?
“I’m trying my best to take it all in stride. I’m lucky to have an amazing partner and two children who are best buddies. Our days are filled with games, schoolwork, movies, walks and cooking. I’m used to being a stay at home parent between contracts, this is just a little more intense.”
Aside from your ability to work and perform, what do you miss most right now?
“I miss my friends. Both opera and non-opera. The rehearsal room is such an amazing space to explore and play. The relationships that are formed in the tight-knit opera community are deep, and I miss the experience of rehearsing as much as performing. I’m also missing our family friends and the bonds our kids have formed. Can’t wait for backyard BBQs to be back.”
What is a prediction you have for the opera industry during and after this pandemic?
“To make a prediction one has to listen to people who know more about the situation. I have immense faith in public health officials, and they are saying that large public gatherings may not happen until a vaccine is widely available. Which could be at least a year away. Not being able to have live performance the way we are used to is going to be extremely difficult for our industry. Opera is a live art form. Even HD broadcasts with the best singers in the world can’t compare to sitting in the theatre and experiencing a hundred people become a conduit for something bigger.
“I’m hopeful that opera can find ways to stay relevant and adapt so that we have an art form and an audience to return to when this all passes. I’m exploring the digital realm, but perhaps there are opportunities for outdoor performances of festivals or maybe even mediums that haven’t been conceived yet. This is a time for innovators.”
How do you imagine your re-entry into full-time work will look?
“I’m just hoping that the companies that have made my career thus far, can survive this period and hire me on the other side. It’s up to me to maintain my voice and work off the 20 pounds of Corona-snacks. I’m not sure what it might look like, what kind of precautions or limitations might be in place. I imagine concert work might be easier to adapt, so perhaps that might be one of the first places that vocal music returns. Until then, I’ll probably be bartending and renovating.”