Roving Singers Face Reality of Stay-Home Edict



Late last week, Opera Memphis sent a message to the public that offered to send singers around town for drive-by serenades. It encouraged people to send an email and it would dispatch a van and flatbed trailer to wherever music lovers were (sparsely) gathered, and belt out some arias.

Taking opera to the streets. - OPERA MEMPHIS
  • Opera Memphis
  • Taking opera to the streets.

Ned Canty, general director of Opera Memphis, said at last count there were more than a hundred requests and they’d been busy taking music to the streets, rain or shine.

Until 6 p.m. today.

That’s when Mayor Jim Strickland’s edict to stay at home goes into effect. There’s a list of exceptions, but itinerant warblers don’t qualify.

“At 6 p.m., we're not going to do any more of these,” Canty says. But he is going to request permission from the mayor for an exemption. “We’re very rigorous in terms of social distancing. Only one person touches the equipment. Nobody’s in the same car.

Nobody is within six feet. We want to abide by the rules, so what we are going to ask for is his permission to sing for first responders, folks in hospitals, trying to find some places where people are essential employees and we will come and thank you by giving you this weird spread-out show.”

Canty intends to honor all the requests, but circumstances have changed things. It might be digital, or it might have to wait until the stay-home order is lifted. Maybe it’s only by Skype or FaceTime.

Today, the rain notwithstanding, the traveling troupe sang at condos on Parkway, at a recovery center, and for a retired couple living in a cul-de-sac. And at 6 p.m., it’s the final bow.

“But hopefully,” Canty says, “this will be the fuel that gets us through isolation.”

Tennessee Shakespeare Company

TSC is launching its Decameron Project Wednesday, March 25th, at 10:15 a.m. on its Facebook page.


Company actors will be performing online inspired by Boccaccio's fourteenth century book The Decameron. The author had fled Florence to survive the Black Death epidemic. The book's short stories are told by women and men who self-quarantined for two weeks during the outbreak, giving them an opportunity to tell a story every night.

TSC will present its project Monday through Friday with the actors announcing the theme, taking note of literary and artistic events on that date in history, reading one or more pieces, and giving a Shakespeare speech that joins the theme.

Ballet Memphis

Dance aficionados can visit Ballet Memphis' Facebook page that has the "Stay Inside" video by dancers Brandon Ramey and Virginia Pilgrim Ramey. The short meditation on the isolation we're all having to endure is a reminder that performers have to perform, and no pandemic can stop them.

Also, the Pilates program at Ballet Memphis is now offering digital fitness classes through the Zoom platform. More information is here.

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