During my second year at the University of Manitoba, I began to have vocal troubles. At first, I didn’t think very much about it. I just assumed I was sick and that things would get better. It quickly became clear that something was wrong and I was sent to see an Ear, Nose and throat (ENT) specialist. I saw a specialist for 8 months, participating in treatments, therapies, whatever was even possibly recommended. After 8 months of the same continuous treatment with no progress, I sought another opinion from Dr. Robert Sataloff, a well-known and respected ENT in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On my first visit to Dr. Sataloff I was informed that I had developed vocal paresis, which is another way of saying a partial paralysis of the voice, and vocal cysts, which had been developing to compensate for the paresis. My doctor recommended a surgery called a Thyroplasty, which involved sewing in layers of gortex into your voice box to help you make sound. However there was also the option that I might be able to develop other ways of working through the paresis through committed vocal therapy. I voted to try therapy and hold off on the idea of having raincoat material sewn into my throat.
The following 12 months became an exercise in patience. I was told very clearly that if I wanted to sing I would need to re-learn how I spoke and how I sung. I worked diligently every day, and made huge improvements, however it was never quite enough to allow me to have the control needed for an operatic career. Eventually I did opt for the surgery. It took three medical procedures, 18 months, and a combined total of 6 weeks of complete silence before I was able to speak very clearly again. Throughout all of this it became clear that I was not going to sing again.
Fortunately, at the same time, I was introduced to directing. Directing had always been something I had thought about doing; something I would do years later once I had had a performing career. But suddenly opportunities were arising to learn about opera directing, and to begin directing it. It was during this time I directed my first opera, a production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare. I started to realize that even though I could no longer go onstage and tell stories directly to an audience, I could help shape and mould the entire world the audience would see. I could help performers realize their ability to inspire and move a crowd of strangers. I could help tell stories that people would love and remember.
Today, I am a director with a focus primarily in opera and theatre. It has been an interesting journey thus far….can’t wait to see what will happen next!
Click here for my resume