Jenna's back! And so is opera, we think? Oh hi.

Jenna's back! And so is opera, we think?

Jenna Simeonov

I’ll tell you this, readers: absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

I’ve been absent from Schmopera, you might have noticed. Some reasons why:

  • Eighteen-ish months over at Opera Canada magazine, managing their social media and curating their digital content. Cool gig! A bit bizarre during COVID times, but an excellent exercise in the now-ubiquitous pivot. (#pivot)
  • A short-lived, but thrilling time in artist management! Late last year, I joined Stratagem Artists as an Associate Artist Manager, and learned a ton. I have a new wave of respect for singers because of my time with Stratagem - not to mention the companies who are honest-to-goodness trying their absolute best to employ artists, put up productions, and stay safe. Everyone is a bit of a superhero these days.
  • Mom life! What a wild ride, this pandemic parenting. Little kiddo is mere weeks away from starting junior kindergarten. He’s the proud new owner of a Lightning McQueen lunch bag and a fresh batch of adorable masks. I’m so excited for him. And man, we’ve come so far.

All this is to say that I’m happily back at my Schmopera desk, looking out into what might be a kind-of-sort-of, actual opera season. I’m getting emails about in-person performances, and it’s so enticing I’m almost afraid to believe it. The Royal Opera is doing Rigoletto and Flute and their beloved old Traviata. The Met is full-steam-ahead, starting with what is sure to be a moving Verdi’s Requiem, 20 years after September 11, 2001. Over in LA, there’s big fat Wagner, and Get Out with live orchestra (so great). There’s even a so-freaking-exciting Carmen happening out of Chicago Opera Theater, starring Jamie Barton and Stephanie Blythe. You heard me.

Here in Canada, things seem to be moving slower than in the US or in Europe. The Canadian Opera Company’s approach is a good indicator, I think; they’ve titled their 2021-22 season, “A Season Like No Other” (get it? It’s never been like this before? This is all totally bizarre?) and they’re parsing it out in chunks. The Fall is set with digital content, and we’re all leaning in to hear of any whiffs of live shows in 2022.

Maybe because of morbid curiosity, I’m oddly pumped for this season. It’ll be like watching opera history happen: we’ve gotten used to digital opera, and there’s more out-of-the-box thinking happening now than we’ve had in centuries. We’re about to see what happens when artists get back to work, ravenous for creativity after a terrible and depressing famine, armed with a whole whack of life experience from the last 18 months.

That life experience no doubt includes the fact that opera has lost some of itself to the pandemic. Some artists have stepped away from the industry, packed up their things and gotten stable jobs. And though they’re being wisely quiet about it, opera companies are reeling from it all, and will be for a while yet.

In this tiny little realm of the performing arts, there’s little left to do but stay patient and look ahead. That’s my strategy, at least. Schmopera has some cool content coming your way, like this week’s rollout of a fresh batch of Aria Guides, dedicated to the masterpieces of Joe Green himself. Oh, and I’m reading this stunning book of poetry and Leontyne Price… review coming soon.

And readers, we’ve got a big announcement coming! Stay tuned for good things. Like the final scene of a great Wagner opera, it’ll be worth the wait.

In the meantime, tell us what you’d like to read! Send us your ideas, from interview requests and hot topics, to how-to questions and shows to review. Drop them in the comments, or get in touch at [email protected].

Glad to be back, all.

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