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  • Writer's picturekatherinelerner


Today, Austria took new action on the Coronavirus, limiting public gatherings to 500 people outside, and 100 people inside. They also shut down the border to Italy. The virus is already here in Austria of course, but not yet rampant like it is in Italy. No cases yet in Linz, but epidemiologists say it's only a matter of time. The idea is to stave off the Corona peak until after the peak of the flu season, which is now, so hospitals will be less overburdened. As of now, all performances in Linz will be canceled until at least March 31. The theater will react to new daily developments to set a path going forward. At the moment, we are still rehearsing for Parsifal as if it will premiere on April 12, but I have serious doubts it will happen as planned. It's amazing, with the globalization of the world, how quickly something that once seemed so distant arrives at your doorstep. I should have been more mentally prepared, what with everything I've read, but it was still kind of shock when the theater convened a last-minute meeting to tell us the news. I'm taking it kind of hard. When I came home in tears, Molly assumed I was crying about the possibly-missed opportunity to sing Kundry, a role that I'm both really excited about, and one that holds my fragile hopes of advancing my career. Sure, I'm upset if my work on this role is for nothing. And it will be hard if theater ends up shutting down for longer, and the work that gives my life in Austria its purpose is gone. But I'm sadder more broadly. My friends and family have already cancelled their visits here, and the over 4,000 miles that separate us are feeling so much further than ever. How strange to going this almost surreal Station 11-like situation so far from each other, each enclosed in our own little worlds. I'm not panicking and I'm not afraid that I will die (statistically my odds are only twice that of the flu, at 0.2 percent), but yet, there is something exhausting, discomforting, about bracing yourself for an ever-advancing, unseen infection. And staring down into the unknown. I remain optimistic ("3.5 months from now is long way out!" "Things are going better in China!"), but I can't help but imagine a worst-case scenario where we are under quarantine this summer, and Molly and I can't get back to the USA, which I think would crush me. I'm sad for all my friends in the field who work free-lance, who are really, really hurting right now. I'm sad for my mom, who is by herself and riddled with anxiety over this thing. I'm sad for my dad, whose business is already really hurting. I'm sad for our friends in Linz outside of the theater, whose livelihoods are being severely impacted. And I'm dispirited by all the examples of people who so selfishly spread this thing (the woman who brought her fever down to fly to France to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant, the health care worker in NH who nonetheless went to a big gathering in Dartmouth, my poor friend who is under quarantine because her boss went on a vacation to Italy way after it was a known hotspot, and came back and worked for four days, symptomatic, interfacing with at least 60 people, who then interacted with other people, etc, etc). When we inevitably have a disease with a much higher fatality rate than this one, what does say about our chances of containment/survival? I'm feeling frustrated at all the mistakes we've made and continue to make and despondent about humanity in general. I don't have faith the "deciders" in each country aren't just winging it. A lot of decisions seem arbitrary and half-hazard. Flying blind. There's something so absurd about the whole situation that it would be funny if it wasn't unbearably depressing. What I'm grateful for is technology. I was able to talk with my mom today and see her face, and hear her ideas of the little things we could do to regain some sense of control over our lives, and be comforted by her love. And after our night time rehearsal, I could talk with my dad, someone who is completely not panicking in spite of his age (69), who is way, way more concerned with the effects on the economy, who is going ahead living his life in California, and could throw some comforting statistics at me, and make me laugh with his blunt, irreverent jokes about the current situation. I have Molly and Leo and the cats. And just because my other my loved ones aren't physically present, they are with me too. I'll have moments when I slip up I'm sure, but I'm going to try to focus on what I have going forward. The rest is certainly out of my hands.

As a wise friend wrote, "The show will go on...eventually."

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