Kevin Conners: A day in Covid-19

Ensemble member Kevin Conners describes a day in his life during Covid-19: 27 October 2020.

Ensemble member Kevin Conners

27 October 2020

When I woke up this morning and realized that I had forgotten our wedding anniversary again, (it was yesterday), I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day. As it turned out, I would be right.

Everyone at the Bayerische Staatsoper is taking Covid-19 very seriously. The opera has about 950 employees which are partly tested at regular intervals. There is an elaborate hygiene concept in place and the university hospital, Rechts der Isar, is advising the Staatsoper in the process continuously. My test appointment was at 9:40. As I entered the testing hall, a friend of mine, also a singer, was acting very peculiarly. After a few minutes of analyzing the situation, it became clear that he was having a stroke and needed immediate medical attention. Those of us nearby rallied together to care for him and it was fortunate that the doctor from the clinic that carries out the tests was on the spot and could help immediately. He is stable and resting at a city hospital.

As a result of this incident, I was late for my first rehearsal of the day. It was a musical call for our new production of Falstaff. Michele Mariotti, our conductor, showed understanding for my delay and went on to lead a productive rehearsal taking time to explain the beauty of the Italian language in relationship with the music. The Falstaff cast changed into our rehearsal costumes and began the scenic rehearsal with director Mateja Koležnik. The energy that our stage director demonstrates is quite amazing. Her vision of Falstaff is most interesting and colorful, as is her language. In general, we had a very productive day on the set of Falstaff. We made musical and scenic advancements and the second act is taking shape.

In between rehearsals I was busy with emails and the proposal from the actors at Residenztheater regarding a letter to the leaders of government concerning our future. The letter expresses well, the call for dialogue. All the soloists from the Bayerische Staatsoper agreed to the contents of the letter that will be published tomorrow.

My final rehearsal of the day ended at 19:40. In the Nationaltheater, Macbeth was running on stage with 50 spectators in the hall. I have been a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper since the 1. May 1988. Never have I witnessed anything like this during my tenure here at the theater. It was indeed a sad moment for me. One dialogue stands out in my mind as I reflect on the day’s events:
Mateja Koležnik: “Can we rehearse?” Michele Mariotti answered with “Can we perform?”

Is this what we as artists are up against? The question of our mere existence?

As I tried to demonstrate at the beginning, we at the Bayerische Staatsoper care for one another. We look out for one another. We don’t want anyone to get sick. We are adhering to all of the health code requirements. I sang five hours of rehearsals with a mask on!

Tonight, watching the colleagues perform, I witnessed firsthand the dismantling of our beloved art form. If this continues, it will be the demise of the theater and lead to an emptiness in society. The arts nurture humanity. Will I no longer be allowed to do what I was born to do, sing, perform, and give hope through sharing my talent with others?

Today, was not a good day.

A text by Kevin Conners


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