2018 in review: a confession

2018 in review: a confession

Jenna Simeonov

It’s the time of year where all the media outlets are wont to do a “year in review” sort of piece. Whatever your focus - cars, gadgets, politics, opera - Decembers are usually for taking stock of the highs and lows of the 11 preceding months.

Like every year since its 2013 inception, Schmopera has had highlights. My interview with Thomas Hampson, which happened between performances of Hadrian at the COC, was one point of pride. And though it’s not a positive story, I got catharsis writing about the seedy accusations of sexual abuser James Levine and his legal battles with the Metropolitan Opera - “let it fall,” went my thesis.

Anyway. In past years, it was easy to come up with a “Top 10 of 20whatever” post. But, judging from the blank Google docs that resulted from my attempts to think up a #Roundup2018, this year it’s more difficult.

In late 2017, when I was pregnant with my son, I brought on a team of new contributors. I figured that once he was born, I’d be too preoccupied, at least for a few months, to keep up Schmopera’s output and attention to detail all by myself. So, since the 201718 season, we’ve had a fab team of writers working in cities worldwide. Suddenly, Schmopera had gone from being a two-person project to an international deal.

All this is to say that for the whole of 2018, though I was editor of Schmopera, it was no longer my baby - my baby was my baby.

After my son was born, it wasn’t even the sleep deprivation or the 10-times-daily feeding schedule that kept my brain far, far from the world of opera. He turned 1 last month, and the amount of amazing that he is outweighs 100-fold the emotional rollercoaster of the best operas I’ve ever seen.

Alex for proof. Photo by Andrej.

I’ll admit it to you, readers, because you guys are the bee’s knees: for me, the hardest part of writing about opera in 2018 has been caring about opera.

I know - I’m not supposed to admit that. Especially since this is a place where opera and its artists are so unabashedly celebrated. And in other years, doing a little year-in-review thing has been super easy. I was tightly connected to my work with Schmopera, and I was along for the ride with the ebbs and flows of our output and its resonance with our readers.

In 2018, the highlights haven’t all been from me. They’ve been from our incredible contributors, who write reviews so detailed that I sincerely wish I could have been there myself (I’m looking at you, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Il trovatore). They interview artists, make sure important stories get attention, even share their choice podcasts. They’re amazing, and they’ve kept Schmopera alive and well.

I’m sure that any career-oriented person who has become a parent has thought at some point, I will never be able to work again. In the first weeks of getting to know my son, I remember thinking that any singer who has had a child and still continues to sing is an utter superhero. It’s one thing for me to haul myself over to my desk to write a few paragraphs while my baby naps - I’m often dressed in pajamas and huddled over a cup of coffee; but it’s quite another to get your body and voice ready for public consumption (not to mention getting into a damn gown and heels).

But I’m able to say all of this - all of these scattered ramblings - because it’s all coming back. My love for opera isn’t squashed, it’s totally alive; and my mom status just means I’m even more emotionally volatile - perfect for an opera fan. My nights out are more meaningful; they take a bit more planning, and the extra effort seems to make them more rewarding.

I guess that’s my 2018 year-in-review: finding my way back to opera. It certainly helped to have, always bubbling in the background like happy reminders, the insatiable enthusiasm for opera of our writers and readers. So, thanks.

I hope you all have happy holidays, a joyful new year, and guilt-free overeating.

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