Merriam Webster has the following (and more) entries for the word REFLECTION:
1: an instance of reflecting especially: the return of light or sound waves from a surface
2: the production of an image by or as if by a mirror
4: something produced by reflecting: such as a: an image given back by a reflecting surface b: an effect produced by an influencethe high crime rate is a reflection of our violent society
5: an often obscure or indirect criticism : REPROACH a reflection on his character
6: a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation
7: consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose
I’m quite literally gazing at the reflection of the trees on the water, here at the end of this “long weekend” associated with Labor Day. Usually at this point in the year, I feel wrung out; 3+months of long days, epic performances, and a lot of professional extroverting will do that. And this also is the time when audition applications are pouring in and we’re screening hundreds of packets of paperwork and videos to see who we’ll make time to hear on our fall audition tour.
This year is markedly different.
There will be no audition tour.
The season was only Opera, featured no live performances, and was a mere six weeks long. Piece of cake, right? Well, not really.
The stresses resulted from trying to safely gather and make collaborative art during a pandemic. And we did! We had 40+ artists join us in Virginia. We fielded almost 800 hours of vocal coachings and language coachings and staging rehearsals and colleague auditions, and captured livestreamed performances and masterclasses.
And we did it without anyone getting sick. (HALLELU!)
But it came with a cost. The plans we made were extensive, and constantly changing to adapt to the most recent health department data. My workplace was able to generously support our program – while the cost was a fraction of our usual operation, it still was a significant amount of capital – but my staff was furloughed after the artists went home. And the stress of the last months? Well, let’s say that it puts the highest “stress” moments of my career thus far in the kiddie pool…this was some deep water we navigated this summer.
When I was in college, I dreamed of running my own opera company: this position has in many ways been a dream come true… however, I didn’t really think that my first true season would look anything like this one. (Careful what you wish for?) I’m so proud of what we accomplished, for it was truly a collaborative effort. At the same time, I’m mourning the art that wasn’t created, the creators and artists who have been silenced through stress, poverty, bigotry and racism, lack of opportunity, and this raging pandemic.
But I’m also thinking about the work I have to do on myself: now is the time to start digging into ways to create new helpful habits, to become a better leader and manager, to become more consistent in my art and exercise practices. (If anyone else needs an accountability buddy, or has a resource that has been effective in your life? Drop me a line in the comments!)
Tomorrow is back to work, even if the work looks and feels very different. I hope, wherever and whatever you’re doing tomorrow, that it feeds your soul and your bank account in equal measure.