Soprano Erin Wall on how she’s singing through cancer

Wall performs with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s production of Peter Grimes

Opera soprano Erin Wall says a cancer diagnosis has given her a new perspective. (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra)

Opera singer Erin Wall says while being diagnosed with breast cancer has led to a “difficult, difficult year,” it has at least provided a sense of perspective.

“We tend to get very wrapped up in the minute details of our performance and how good they are,” Wall said.

“It’s been a little easier to forgive myself when things aren’t perfect … I have cancer. I’m doing the best I can.”

The acclaimed soprano, who spent her formative years in Vancouver, where her parents played in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, is in the city for the VSO’s production of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.

It’s one of the engagements Wall was able to maintain as she goes through cancer treatments.

“What’s really nice when you’re going through having cancer and cancer treatment is anytime you can grasp at normalcy, and anytime you can do something that uplifts you, makes your feel good and gives you hope, and for me, singing really was that,” she said.

‘Greatest job in the world’

So far, Wall has only had to cancel two engagements. She says timing her treatments between gigs have helped, as well as leaning on a support group of other cancer survivors.

“The hardest bit was the steroids that I took to help my body cope with the chemotherapy … [because] high doses of them have a strong effect on the voice,” she said.

“I’ve been really, really lucky that no one fired me and no one said we’ll just move along.”

It also helps that singing the role of Ellen Orford is one Wall identifies with deeply. In the opera, Orford tries to help protagonist Peter Grimes who is in trouble after a boy in his care dies mysteriously.

“When there’s a problem, she’s always looking for solutions and she just wants to do something … and wants to help which is very much who I am,” she said, adding singing the role is positively “wonderful.”

“When it’s good, it’s the greatest job in the world. I have no complaints.”

The VSO performs Peter Grimes on Monday, June 11 at 8 p.m. PT.

error: Content is protected !!