This is an authorized translation in English of a post in French by Maité Decombe (@mdecombe): Entre illusions et réalité
As my primary language is not English, there are probably some mistakes in my translation.
Remember that the person who speaks here is NOT me, Vincent Celier (@vcelier), but Maité Decombe (@mdecombe), a French gal.
The Opera of my Life
Journey to the end of the extreme
An opera singer is like a top athlete. An irreproachable hygiene of life, and the obsession to be able vocally to assure the opera until the end.
It means healthy food, no alcohol, lots of sleep and no sex. It is the asceticism of the artist. A singer has abdominal breathing, and unless you are a real board and do not move at all, fooling around seeks the contribution of the abdominals. But we are not going to make an opera of it!
On the other hand, I must speak to you about the ever present anxiety of the disease. An angina, a cold, and the voice is altered. Yet the show must take place, whatever the cost. And to me too, I happened to have an extinction of voice. Imagine a 100-meter runner who sprains an ankle. It's the same.
Yet it is a packed house, with hundreds and sometimes thousands of spectators, who had paid their place and looked forward to the performance. It was difficult for me to be replaced or to pay a deduction. If I did not provide the performance, I had to reimburse the cost of the show. Which was absolutely not possible.
It was at this time that I learned to give me cortisone shots. So the maid, finding the syringes in the garbage, wondered if I was not an addict. The clichés are going well, an artist necessarily has a marginal life.
I was getting cortisone shotes just before the show, and the organizers made an announcement at the beginning to apologize that the singer was sick, she might have a failure.
Yet I held to the end. Except once, where my voice went out for the last sentence I had to sing. The public perceiving my condition, my courage, and my perseverance to carry out the 3 acts of Paillasse, got up and gave me a standing ovation.
At that moment all nervous tension fell, fatigue and emotion overwhelmed me.
When you're an artist, you're looking for adrenaline. So outside of the scene I was once attracted to skydiving. Yet I'm afraid of emptiness, I'm dizzy, but this need for ever stronger feelings never left me.
So I jumped once, but not two. I had the scare of my life.
However, during a performance in Lyon of "The Mascot" in the ancient theater of Fourvière, the director had the crazy idea of wanting to drop me on stage by helicopter. All the images of my parachute jump came back to me, that feeling of emptiness, and that adrenaline that was more of fear.
I said no. No way I go down into the void, hooked by a rope. Especially in my beautiful crinoline evening dress.
So I imposed my version of the entry on stage. It is not me who jumps from the helicopter, but it is the helicopter that will land directly on the stage, in front of the crowd astonished and amazed at seeing me go down and start singing.
When one is an artist, one must not run out of air and must have an excellent hygiene of life, which has not always been my case...
Continue to Part 4.
-- Maité Decombe (@mdecombe)