Ok, so picture this…
You’re backstage, putting your makeup on in a dressing room full of people you’ve rehearsed with for weeks. There’s laughter and excited energy bursting throughout the room. You don your costume and you’re ready to go on stage. The five minute call is given to you over the speakers by your trusty stage manager, and you make your way to the wings, ready to pour your soul into your character that you’ve spent weeks (or even months) perfecting; ready to create a memorable experience for every single person in the auditorium…
Only this time, you’re in your living room…
Or home office, or home studio (if you’re lucky). And you’re performing to a blank computer screen. Often to your own reflection.
Sadly, that’s the reality of many performers this year, as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the live performance industry.
The dressing rooms are empty, the stages have gone dark, and a lot of singers have lost the motivation to even sing anymore, as there’s nothing to work towards.
As the effects of this pandemic slowly lift around the world it is encouraging to see so many opera houses and companies start to get back on their feet and put on productions again. But the struggle to find motivation still bares its vicious head as artists in Melbourne see little signs of a return to the stage before 2021.
It never gets easier performing to a computer screen. It could easily compare to singing to an empty concert hall. Live performance relies so heavily on audience reaction and involvement in order to create something truly beautiful, and I, for one, can’t wait to feel the incredible rush of a standing ovation once all of this is over (instead of a screen full of clapping emojis and pure silence after performing to a zoom full of audience members).
This year, I am privileged to once again be a young artist with Gertrude Opera, and to be invited back to perform in two operas, and two gala concerts as part of this year’s Yarra Valley Opera Festival; Australia’s first ever virtual opera festival. However, preparing these roles and arias has been no easy task. I know I speak for a lot of artists at the moment when I say that finding motivation to perform to a blank screen is tough. But, that’s exactly what I’m doing for this festival. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m excited and ecstatic to be singing again!
This week is recording week! All the artists have been working hard; practicing and memorising their pieces, and now all that work comes to a head as we record our roles from the comfort of our own homes. Ready to be streamed to hundreds of people watching the festival at the end of October. (And I must say, it’s a lot easier recording to a blank screen when you’re continuously reminding yourself of all the audiences that will eventually see all your hard work come to life!)
Make sure you grab your tickets to this year’s festival! The festival is entirely online. making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection (There are even two free events, so you have no excuse!). Head over to the Gertrude Opera website for all the information you’ll need on the individual shows, and how to buy tickets!
The purpose of this blog post is to highlight the challenges that all singers are going through right now, from a first person perspective.