The heat has finally hit Sweden, and that with vengeance. My Pandemic Garden is growing fast and furiously, and very soon there will be potatoes, zucchini, beans, onions, cucumbers, and all sorts of greens to enjoy. And artichoke… and fennel! Maybe even strawberries, if the local hedgehog doesn’t eat them all…
It is a strange and brave new world.
It seems to me that life before the pandemic was largely a challenge in the realm of achievement. Paving a path for self-expression, making a living, learning enough to satisfy the demand on ones’ identity out there…
Now the uncharted territory seems mostly an internal one.
Feelings around meaning and value, purpose and peace are battling it out in the echoing silence where jobs and travel used to be. And community, or the lack thereof, is making its voice heard.
And that’s not all bad.
For the past ten years I have been the primary caregiver to my mother, Greta, in her journey with Alzheimer’s Disease. As much as friends and colleagues have reminded me that I should not sacrifice the rest of my life (career, health, a social life!) to take care of her, I have not been able to make a different choice. It is who I am, and it is where I came from. And yes, it has had a devastating effect on the functionality of both body and mind as it must be applied to a career singing. But the meaning of the word sacrifice has to do with “making sacred”. And so it is.
The journey I am on with her has intensified during the past year, and it is providing me with such profound gratitude for the moments in time where love, appreciation and connection intersect. The pandemic has been hellish for her. And as my presence (as well as kisses from Maestro-the-Dog!) has provided her balm and comfort, she has provided me with meaning and purpose.
Many tears, but oh, so much love…
The career must end at some point, and when it does, I do wish for all of my colleagues that they experience at least the amount of deeply felt value that I have been given this year by her.
I have learned more about singing while listening to her old recordings with her this year, than during most of my career out in the world. As an artist, she was, in a word, breathtaking…
So, I’ve decided that I am not going to entertain any substantial international work for the duration of her journey here on earth. She needs me, and I need her.
This is reflected in my decision to discontinue my association with Hilbert Artist Management in Munich, and instead upgrade my collaboration with Braathen Artist Management in Stockholm to General/Worldwide representation. I am grateful for much of the wonderful work I have had the privilege to do through Hilbert. And, now it is time for the next chapter. The new owners of Braathen Artists, the gorgeous and smart sisters Elisabet and Katarina Haglund, have welcomed me “back home” to my original agency again, and I am so very delighted and happy.
They understand and appreciate my priorities, as well as the changeability the situation entails, and they know me as a person and artist who is best in situations tailored to my unique interests and capacities.
It is certainly quite possible that the pandemic, and caring for my Mom, will be the quick boot kick that propels me out of the opera business for good. If that is the case, I am undoubtedly still one of the luckiest and most delighted singers in the world.
In the meanwhile, I am happy to add recitals with a couple of wonderful pianists to my schedule here in Sweden. And practicing, teaching, writing and being a “local” are keeping me very busy indeed.
Stay safe, Everyone!