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The Distancing Diaries: Opera Australia’s Stacey Alleaume On Taking the Time for New Hobbies

14 April 2020 by Nick McCarthy
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Welcome to The Distancing Diaries, where we chat with members of the theatre community about how they’re staying creative and inspired in the time of social separation. While we can’t go to a show (for now), we hope that by sharing stories from the field, you’ll find comfort, solace, and maybe a few new ideas of how to pass the time. 

Opera Australia’s soprano Stacey Alleaume is turning to new and old activities during this time, from learning the piano to brushing up on her French. She chats with us about the many ways she’s keeping busy and creative during isolation.

What is keeping you inspired during this time?
My friends are keeping me inspired. I love seeing Instagram stories and videos of my friends getting creative at home, sharing videos of them singing or learning new dance routines or even sharing how they are learning new skills.

How are you staying creative?
I stopped piano lessons about 16 years ago and didn’t continue to develop those skills after I made the decision to focus on singing as my chosen profession. So I have started trying to play again and that brings me a lot of joy.  I am also enjoying having the time to do some of my cross-stitching and tapestry projects, and creating photo books from past holidays/trips which I haven’t got around to!

How are you practicing self-care?
Firstly, I have started limiting how much I watch the news everyday as it was making me quite anxious and overwhelmed.  I am also staying connected with my friends and family via text message, social media, facetime, email. A few times a week, I will dress up nicely around the house as a “feel good” and I like to burn scented candles throughout the day. 

What is something (or a few things) great that you’ve watched?
Whilst I study new music scores, I like to have the live animal camera feed from Victoria Zoo on in the background.  Love watching the snow leopard cubs, lions and giraffes.  I’ve also been reacquainting myself with some old Disney classics like “The Lion King” and watching other movies like “Little Women,” “Judy,” and “The Red Shoes” (1948).

What is something that you’ve enjoyed reading?
I’ve been using this down time to improve my French language skills and so I’ve been reading some books like “language readers for beginners” such as: “Les rêves de Jules Verne” by Myriam Louviot. 

What are you listening to?
A lot of Duolingo at the moment!

Have you gotten into cooking or baking? What’s something that you’ve enjoyed making, and if you can, can you share the recipe?
I certainly have, but I have had to start limiting how much I am baking each week now!!! I made my first loaf of bread recently and it was a big success!! It was Silvia Colloca’s Olive Bread recipe from her book “Love, Laugh Bake”

I’m also taking the time to go back to my roots and have been cooking some Mauritian cuisine. I found the best authentic book called: “The Best Mauritian Cuisine by Madeleine and Clancy Philippe.” It’s like an encyclopedia to all the best recipes but a couple of my favourites are Bol Deviré (Upside Down Bowl) and Napolitaines (a very popular pastry cake).

How are you staying physically and vocally ready to return to the show?
Physically: I take my little dog for a walk every day, and this also gives me a daily dose of fresh air, sunshine, and vitamin D.

Vocally: After a little break to recover emotionally, I have started singing again.  Whilst there is great uncertainty right now, I am trying to embrace the down time to learn new music, new roles, and expand my repertoire. Translating scores are usually time consuming and it’s often a bit of a juggling act when you have a very busy season, so I am doing a bit of this at the moment too.

How do you think people can support theatre and the arts community and engage with it during this time?
If you’re missing opera, many companies are streaming past performances online and OperaWire posted an article about it recently. Also, The Melbourne Digital Concert Hall is a digital concert hall with concerts streamed and all tickets sold online go directly to supporting the artists.