A singer with a cold: Do I go to rehearsal?

A singer with a cold: Do I go to rehearsal?


norman lebrecht

January 12, 2015

Message from one of our artist friends in a major opera house:

Rehearsal day one, with a stinker of a cold. I want to be a good colleague and respect that they might fear I’m still contagious, which I’m certainly not, and if I just sit quietly at the back and join in the bits I feel I can sing, they’ll tolerate me.

But what do you, oh good singer friends, think is the right thing to do? Stay away, or turn up? I have about an hour to decide.

hitchcock sneeze


  • Thomas Silverbörg says:

    A tricky question- should one respect their colleagues, as well as themselves, or appease a totally disinterested management, sitting in their offices checking their bank accounts while abhorring actually having to do their duties to replace an ill singer, who, after all, is only a human being, or go to rehearsal out of fear of repurcussions from above? This is a question every singer needs to answer. I never got anything positive out of working deathly ill myself…..

  • May says:

    Stay home. Sitting in the back doesn’t help anyone. You either come to rehearsal ready to work, or you stay home and recuperate. The pianist or conductor will fill in your parts.

  • Terri says:

    my ENT says that I whole you have cold symptoms, you are still contagious. So stay home!

  • cabbagejuice says:

    You can wear a mask like the Japanese do.

  • Nicola Hollyman says:

    Definitely stay home! Nobody thanks you for coming in and spreading your germs and you only prolong the lurg by trying to soldier on.

  • Aris Argiris says:

    You STAY home!!!!
    It’s horrible specially at the final period of rehearsals in a production to have colleagues, coming in with coughing and not being fully recovered!!!
    I was myself affected from a colleague like that, that came and spread his virus all around with the resuo, that i got also sick!
    Respect your colleagues, your job, their job, the team work, and definitely STAY home!

  • Paul says:

    at the Prague National Theatre, our conductor Bohumil Gregor would immediately yell at anyone who tried to apologize for having a slight cold. “If you have cold symptoms, stay out of the theatre!”, he would shout, and I only had to see him do that maybe twice in 3 years. Believe me, once you knew how angry he would get, you stayed the hell away from the theatre even if you had just a sniffle. Either sing full-voiced and in full-health, or stay at home! End of discussion.

  • Alexander Brown says:

    Stay home!

  • Interested party says:

    Depends on the rehearsal! If it’s just ‘working things out’, this can often be as easily done without the singer: an AD will walk, a rep will sing, and you can rest and have it taught to you later. If it’s perhaps a little later in the process and it’s important for YOU to be there, then go. Also, it depends somewhat on the illness whether you mark, or if you just walk the part without singing and avoid kissing anyone… In an ideal world, you’d stay away with even a hint of a cold, but if people didn’t come to rehearsals every time because of a sniffle, it would reach November every year and there’d be chaos until April!