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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

REMOTE | Wallis Giunta: ‘Artists Are Some Of The Most Resilient People I Know!’

By Michael Zarathus-Cook on May 28, 2020

Wallis Giunta
Wallis Giunta (Photo: Bruce Zinger)

Some of the most hardworking people I know are in the performing arts, often juggling multiple projects while paying their bills, with one foot in the gig economy. A period of inactivity such as this inspires a DIY mentality in regard to keeping busy, an inventiveness that’s going to be even more useful post-pandemic. A great example of that is mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta’s current undertakings despite the lockdown restrictions. She joins us for this episode of REMOTE to discuss some of the people and projects that are getting her through quarantine, including a number of virtual engagements, her reading list, and some advice on basic goodness.

How have you been coping during this lockdown?

I’m inclined to be optimistic with all things in life, so while I’ve been taking the situation seriously, I’m looking for those silver linings and spreading as much joy as I can. I’m calling friends and family more, I’ve started volunteering with a charity that provides (safe, socially distanced) companionship for isolated seniors, I’m fostering a bunny rabbit, and I’ve been trying to better get to know my neighbours and community both online, and through safe chats in the garden. And, to keep that driven, workaholic part of me satiated, I’ve been volunteering with a large group of my singer colleagues in the AGMA Soloist Coalition to improve our union representation and advocate for change in the North American opera industry.

What sort of digital initiatives have you been involved in or planning?

I’ve been involved in a few things so far, including a virtual gala for Toronto’s Opera Atelier, a YouTube Live broadcast of Trouble in Tahiti with Opera North (I sang Dinah), and a video I produced for the AGMA Soloist Coalition thanking those companies who have paid their artists for canceled work during this pandemic. I’ve also been releasing new footage from my last recital tour in Australia. Upcoming, I have another virtual gala concert with my Giulio Cesare cast at Boston Lyric Opera, and a digital mini-recital with Ottawa’s Music & Beyond Festival. More things are coming in every day, so I’m sure that won’t be all!

Some words of wisdom that have helped you get through this pandemic?

From my wonderful mother, “One of the things I’m seeing during this pandemic is the innate goodness in people…the human kindness being shared. Basic goodness is a precious gift that we must pass down to the next generation for the benefit of mankind. I love that many children in our world are seeing the adults in their lives helping and caring for others in small and large ways, and embracing this time to be creative and resourceful. This makes me hopeful — this makes me smile from the inside out.”

What do you think are some of the ways arts communities can better prepare for adjusting to a crisis such as this?

Artists are some of the most resilient people I know! We are used to living gig to gig with no security, to making art on a shoestring budget and taking great risks for possibly no reward. We will get through this. We just need to focus on why we are making the art, and put our hearts and souls into it, no matter what the medium — audiences will be there, when it is safe to be. Our world cannot thrive without art and creativity.

Any specific books, films, or TV on the go?

I’m an avid reader, and I’m finishing up the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Next up is a book my Dad recommended, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong.

For more chats with artists in social isolation, read on HERE.

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Michael Zarathus-Cook

Michael is a student at the University of Toronto, a music writer and general arts critic on briband.com He has been published in The Wholenote Magazine, Opera Canada, The Dance Current, Schmopera and more.
Michael Zarathus-Cook

Michael Zarathus-Cook

Michael is a student at the University of Toronto, a music writer and general arts critic on briband.com He has been published in The Wholenote Magazine, Opera Canada, The Dance Current, Schmopera and more.
Michael Zarathus-Cook
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