VIDEO RESOURCES FOR OPERA PARENTS
In celebration of International Carers Week, we have held two fascinating Q&A sessions exploring areas of parenthood which are not often talked about openly.
OPERA PARENTS AND IVF/FERTILITY TREATMENT
We spoke to opera parents who have been through IVF and other forms of fertility treatment, hearing how they coped with this process while working. Joining us for this conversation we met Alessandro Fisher (tenor) who’s daughter was conceived through IUI fertility treatment, and opera couple Aoife Miskelly (soprano) and Joe Austin (opera director) who underwent ICSI IVF treatment. We heard from bass-baritone Zach Altman, who used donor eggs and a surrogate in order to become parents of twins with his husband Dan. We also spoke to soprano Sara Feldman Brummer who conceived through IVF using donor eggs, contralto Kristin Finnigan who had one IVF baby and then went on to have a ‘naturally’ conceived baby, and Lottie Bagnall (soprano) who had two babies through ICSI IVF. This conversation covers issues such as singing whilst taking the hormone treatment, coping with the emotional strain of the process, juggling the time commitments of treatment alongside a freelance career, working during pregnancy, ‘going public’ with news of your treatment and dealing with other people’s opinions and comments, and many other issues. It was an extremely educational conversation for anyone thinking of starting treatment, and for those supporting anyone who is undergoing it.
OPERA PARENTS AND ADOPTION
We also held a session where we met opera parents who have adopted, learning about what that process entailed, and how they managed this alongside their opera careers. We heard from conductor Laurence Cummings who adopted a child with his husband five years ago, and tenor Christopher Turner Pierce and mezzo Sarah Champion, who both adopted two siblings with their husbands. This conversation covered the first steps in adopting, coping with the various stages alongside a relatively unpredictable work pattern/being away etc, becoming parents as a same-sex couple, the performer’s lifestyle and those assessing your suitability for adoption, financial and emotional support post-adoption, children with special needs and trauma issues, and advice for those who work in opera thinking of adopting.
From International Carers Week 2021
We have also re-published two of the videos from our 2021 Carers Week celebrations.
THE BIG JUGGLE: CAREER VS. PARENTHOOD
The Big Juggle was a Q&A with well known opera singers who have managed to successfully juggle their careers with family life. We interviewed soprano Lucy Crowe, baritone Leigh Melrose, and tenor Anthony Gregory. The discussion also includes insights from SWAP’ra members Rebecca Bottone (soprano) and Kitty Whately (Mezzo-soprano). This was a great conversation during which we heard about childcare, traveling with kids, home-schooling during travels, coping with separation and homesickness, asking companies for support, and many other issues. Catch up here.
OPERA PARENTS OF TEENAGERS AND STUDENTS
The second video from our 2021 Carers Week sessions focused on opera parents of teens/students. This features soprano Jeni Bern, and mezzos Jennifer Johnston and Jenny Samuel, and baritone Richard Burkhard, and included insights from SWAP’ra co-founder and mother of a teen Kitty Whately (Mezzo-soprano).This was a great conversation in which we discussed how our kids have responded to our work and our having to be away from home throughout their youth. We talked about learning difficulties, mental health, screen time, #metoo and much more. Catch up here.
Opera parents of children and adults with special needs and disabilities
OPERA PARENTS OF CHILDREN AND ADULTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AND DISABILITIES
Watch this space for the republication of our 2021 videos with guest speakers Brindley Sherratt (Bass), Chris Sherratt (ex-singer) Catherine Hopper (mezzo), Colin Judson (tenor) and Vicky Cowles (saxophonist). These sessions aimed to support those who care for neurodiverse or physically disabled people. We hope to make these videos available in the coming months, after they have been edited.
Brindley Sherratt is one of Britain’s most sought after basses. Alongside an extremely busy and successful international career, he and his wife Chris care for their daughter Amy, who suffers from complex partial seizures and learning difficulties. Mezzo soprano Catherine Hopper juggles a busy career alongside her role as a carer, not just for her three young sons, but also for her adult sister, Rachel who is learning disabled.
Tenor Colin Judson’s son, Morgan has special educational needs and development issues, and Saxophonist Vicky Cowles’ young daughter is a wheelchair user. This was an open session and we had wonderful feedback from participants, some of whom had never had the chance to speak to other musicians and artists who understand these caring responsibilities.