“COVID-long”: inspired by opera singers to breathe easier | Coronavirus


What if learning to breathe again, retraining the lungs, could be done through soothing vocalizations and refrains, like has a clear font? What if the social contact created by an online group meeting, as well as the allure of listening to an operatic soloist playing the note at the end of the workshop, could lift your spirits a little?

That’s the bet they made. They are not the first. Since the start of the pandemic, other opera houses around the world have had the same intuition, such as theEnglish National Opera of London, with its program Breathe“,”text”:”Breathe”}}”>Breathe.

So now here is the program. Breathe of the Montreal Opera. The workshops began on March 15. I had the opportunity to come to the recording studio of the Opera, on the Place des Arts, for the first session, which was broadcast to about forty participants.

So inhale… And let yourself go, aaaaaaah…

Mezzo-soprano Charlotte Gagnon has developed a program of easy exercises, inspired by her daily practice, her relationship with breathing. On the wall in front of her, a large screen to see the participants, who follow the workshop from home. Some opened her chamber, others did not.

Throughout the workshop, she reassures them. The goal is not to achieve a performance but to do good. Also, at the slightest dizziness or discomfort, she recommends taking a break.

« When you think of the opera singer, he explains, you think of a singer who is pushing himself to the limit of his abilities and who is in great shape. But the way we approach it in the workshop, we really go back to the basics, accessible to everyone. »

a quote from Charlotte Gagnon, mezzo-soprano, atelier entertainer
Charlotte Gagnon sitting at the piano.

Mezzo-soprano Charlotte Gagnon of the Montreal Opera leads the workshop series.

Photo: Radio-Canada/Myriam Fimbry

Each 45-minute session consists of two parts: first, breathing and stretching exercises, to land in the workshop and relaxthen vocal exercises and learning a song.

Singing is good. So, we start from this principle.says Pierre Vachon, director of social action and education at the Montreal Opera.

Music is also unifying. It will cause a socialization, from the mental point of view, it is absolutely extraordinaryadds the musicologist, who is in charge of looking for projects for give back to the community and break with this sometimes somewhat elitist image of operatic singing.

prevent discomfort

I see there are questions, says Charlotte who, from the piano, watches the messaging system (chat) out of the corner of her eye. Josée asks if it is normal to feel her heart rate increase. Manon points out that she is out of breath and that she always wants to yawn. Carole feels a vice in her throat. Yves can’t keep the note until the end.

The IRCM doctor and specialist in infectious diseases, Emilia Liana Falcone, is also online. She watches faces and reactions. The instruction she gives: You must respect your limits at all times and take breaks if necessary.

« It is a program that is both artistic, which respects the training of singers, and at the same time medical, which respects the imperatives linked to the long COVID and the various pathologies. »

a quote from Pierre Vachon, director of social action and education at the Opéra de Montréal
Portrait of Pierre Vachon.

Pierre Vachon, director of social action and education at the Opéra de Montréal

Photo: Radio-Canada/Myriam Fimbry

The Breathe program will not be studied at this time. But Dr. Falcone’s patients, followed at the post-COVID-19-IRCM research clinic, will be asked about their experience during their appointments.

Mélanie Lacasse, a resident of Gatineau, followed the workshop on the train that was taking her to Montreal for her appointment at the IRCM the following day.

At times, I saw that my breath was not enough to continue with the vocalization.he told the nurse. séances, on va voir si je me sens mieux après.”,”text”:”On va voir, c’est quand même 12séances, on va voir si je me sens mieux après.”}}”>We’ll see, it’s still 12 sessions, we’ll see if I feel better afterwards.

A nurse examines a woman with curly blonde hair.

Mélanie Lacasse, who has suffered from post-COVID-19 syndrome for a year, hopes that the opera workshops will do her good.

Photo: Radio-Canada/Myriam Fimbry

This 44-year-old mother, a doctor, has been living for a year with post-COVID-19 syndrome, commonly known as long covid. Singing has never been his strong suit, but he wants to put the odds on his side.

The workshops are thus added to the list of his approaches to healing, in addition to follow-ups with various specialists: cardiologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist and psychologist.

Respiratory symptoms are among the most common in long-term COVID, says Dr. Falcone. The patient has shortness of breath or a feeling that they are not breathing well. He is not able to really aerate his lungs.

This requires pulmonary rehabilitation, through physiotherapy sessions. But most of the 9,000 patients counted in Quebec do not have access to it, due to lack of available services or lack of money.

In this context, the free workshops of the Opéra de Montréal are more than welcome, although they will not be enough to meet the immense and growing needs.

« I think the idea is great. It is an alternative, complementary intervention, associated with art, with singing. Patients are expected to see an improvement in their well-being. »

a quote from Emilia Liana Falcone, infectologist, post-COVID-19-IRCM clinic
Portrait of Emilia Liana Falcone.

Emilia Liana Falcone, infectious disease specialist and director of the post-COVID-19-IRCM clinic

Photo: Radio-Canada/Myriam Fimbry

This contact with art and song could have an impact not only on breathing, but also on anxiety, stress, insomnia and depression that afflict some patients.

We can’t go to the concert anymore. We cannot do cultural outings. It feels good to hear from you!exclaims one participant, after Charlotte Gagnon willingly agreed to sing a few seconds in her operatic voice. Your voice does as much good as the exercises we doViolaine Cousineau says.

Suffering from long-term COVID for 18 months, she sometimes feels hopeless. We currently have so little access to services, it’s a lifeline, something like what the Montreal Opera House offers us!

The Montreal Opera intends to fine-tune its workshops and will launch a second session this fall. It is also looking for a way to make them accessible to everyone, on the Internet, in the form of capsules. It’s in the game planPierre Vachon says. We prepare a lot of material, yoga exercises, songs, etc. We told ourselves that it had to serve the general public. It should serve everyone.


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