This is the continuation of a new series of Q&As with the artists of Canada’s opera scene. After our “Quarantine Questions” from the spring/summer of 2020, we’re checking in once again with these artists as they share new perspectives on mid-pandemic opera. Next up: mezzo-soprano Rebecca Cuddy:
What do you miss the most about giving and hearing live performances?
“I miss everything about the theatre. I miss the dim lights, the velvet seats, the smell of a theatre, the anticipation of stepping out to perform. I miss the brilliant spectrum of lights as they dance across the stage. What I truly miss most are the sounds. The quiet step of heels in the wings, and the din as the orchestra warms up. I miss hearing a beautiful mess of singer warm-ups before a show. I recently heard an oboe live, and the beauty of a few simple notes brought me to tears! Through all of this I try and remember what I am grateful for, and that is this. I will never question my love of theatre, and my feeling of belonging in this world again after this wild COVID experience.”
What activities or pursuits have you taken up since last March? Do you have any new interests or passions you can tell us about?
“I am so grateful to have the National Theatre School and this residency at this time. I get to work with incredible artists and create every day. I am so thankful that I have this experience. I truly believe it is what has kept me, as an extrovert, sane during this time! I’ve started trying my hand at many new practices and it has blown my mind wide open with possibilities! I have started directing and writing, I am taking classes in acting and have private coachings with incredible artists. I also have my wonderful partner to thank for always trying new things with me and being a sounding board for ideas and pieces I’m creating.”
What advice do you have for your fellow artists, for staying motivated and engaged during such a difficult time?
“I have not sung for long stretches of time and I am done feeling bad about it! Sure, I have kept up with my lessons, but COVID hasn’t stopped being hard. There are days, weeks and months at a time where I have just not felt like singing. I felt like a failure, especially in the first few months of uncertainty. We are coming up on a year though, and I now know I am not the only one who lost some joy during all of this. I also know it will come back in spades when things ease up. It is OK if singing feels like you’ve lost something right now. It’s OK to lean on other things you love in the meantime.
“I am very pleased that the opera world has had the time to address the very real need for a closer look at how we do things.”
When performances can resume, what do you think opera can or should say with its output? What sort of platform will it have, post-COVID?
“With much thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a lot of work going on internally at opera companies across Canada. There is an ongoing effort to address how the opera industry can update their practices and move forward in a good way, to demonstrate mutual respect and understanding with Black, Indigenous and artists of colour. I am very pleased that the opera world has had the time to address the very real need for a closer look at how we do things. It can only lead to better, more beautiful collaborations, more exciting performances that appeal to wider audiences and to hearing exceptional new voices take the stage. I have been part of some of this work, and the work is never done, but I am glad we are open to learning together.”