April 07, 2020
Ryan Opera Center From Home: Anthony Reed
This is the first in a series of blog posts highlighting how The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members are spending their time while in quarantine. Below, bass Anthony Reed shares his own experience of training at home due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Anthony Reed is a first-year member of the Ryan Opera Center. In Lyric's 2019/20 season he was seen alongside Sondra Radvanovksy in The Three Queens, as Second Prison Guard in Dead Man Walking (Lyric debut), Commissioner in Madama Butterfly, and Narumoff in The Queen of Spades. Originally from Alexandria, Minnesota, Anthony is an alumnus of San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program, Wolf Trap Opera, and the Curtis Institute of Music.
I first want to express how grateful I am to be able to continue my artistic pursuits under the care of Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center during this pandemic. So many artists are without work, and I recognize that I am extremely fortunate as a young artist to be able to continue my work without the economic burden so many are facing.
During the opera season, I was involved in every production except one. There were weeks that I went without a day off, and stretches of time where I merely visited my apartment to sleep. I loved spending time in the theater; I thrived on the excitement of having so many tasks in front of me that even I didn’t know how I would accomplish everything. Yet somehow, I met every deadline and exceeded my own expectations. This is a very different time.
Where once my apartment was a launchpad, now it is my headquarters. That shift involved some mental and literal furniture rearranging.
It took me about a week to sing confidently within the confines of my small, echoey space. I placed a note on my door explaining the nature of my work. I thanked my neighbors and apologized that my work from home would likely disturb theirs. After that, I forced myself to sing out. I heard a door open and someone approach mine—there was a pause—then, a minute later their door shut.
The following few days I slowly began to find the freedom in my voice that I had learned to trust at the opera house. With the encouragement of Julia Faulkner, Craig Terry, Dan Novak, and Emma Scherer, I began my daily practice. However, without rehearsals, coachings, and performances to keep me busy, I had to learn—or I should say—am still learning how to stay focused on my goals while following the governor’s stay at home order.
Lessons with Julia have been surprisingly smooth over Zoom video chat, as have coachings and conversations with Craig. Bi-weekly group chats with the entire Ryan Opera Center keep me motivated and energized, and the closeness that we have all fostered despite the distance has made this moment in time not only bearable, but fulfilling.
In the chaos I have begun to discover stillness, and in that stillness creativity is blossoming - not only in me but in every artist I know.
The world may never be the same after this; in fact, I’m not sure it would be right if it were. One thing I am certain of though, despite all the uncertainty, is that when everyone opens their doors for the first time, the arts will be there to heal communities. That is the kernel of hope I am holding onto. I cannot wait to see the art that arises when artists finally emerge from their cocoons!
To see more of Anthony's experience through videos, subscribe to his YouTube channel.