Lise Davidsen: I had Covid, badly

Lise Davidsen: I had Covid, badly


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2021

The Norwegian soprano, now one of the most sought-after Wagner voices, has told a Washington audience that she was struck down in London by Covid, but emerged strengthened in her musical determination.

From Washington Classical Review:

…In the midst of singing Leonore in Fidelio at the Royal Opera last March, Davidsen took ill, battling debilitating fatigue and losing her sense of smell and taste. An antibody test has since confirmed that the infection was due to Covid 19.

Confiding these details in brief comments between song sets, Davidsen made clear that the long year of lockdown has affirmed her musical vocation. The symptoms she experienced last year made her doubt her ability to endure, but the silence of sheltering at home confirmed that music was the thing that mattered most. Happily the coronavirus seems to have inflicted no lasting damage to her voice….

Read on here.



  • John Borstlap says:

    The greatest fear of singers: being structurally affected in their instrument, lungs and throat.

    It is comparable with the fears of pianists facing a threat by chain saws or meat mincers.

    How lucky she was. Congratulations!

  • Nik says:

    When you say “in the midst” do you mean she got it during the run but carried on singing anyway?
    I was there on Friday the 13th of March, the last Fidelio before the ROH closed down. If she was battling debilitating fatigue she hid it well.

  • Doc Martin says:

    The Astra Zeneca vaccine which hit the buffers over “clots” has chalked up over 55,000 adverse reactions in 3 months of roll out (275 fatal outcome reports). Although both MHRA & EMA gave it the ok on review, they cannot rule out thrombolytic events.

    Normally, a phase III vaccine would have a pre-market approval study, ideally they could have done in 2021-2. The Royal Society Delve report indicated, that roll out could not be done much before 2022. Bojo et al have decided to throw caution to wind as he plays to the gallery (albeit his last performance).

    Personally I prefer a vaccine with full regulatory approval, rather than one with emergency authorisation for a year, which is why I am waiting at least a year for my jab, (but I am retired to rural Ireland miles from anyone) probably a subunit protein, not a vector/mRNA one, Novavax will not be out much before July, it may well have a host of adverse reactions too of course. My impression is one-shot vaccines will make the AZ obsolete, if a winter booster is needed. The logistics for a 2-shot vaccine and boosters would over burden the NHS and any other health system.
    I still keep up with the Lancet & BMJ, I see the 12 weeks interval a contested topic!

    • Richard de Clare says:

      As a patient, I have been avidly following correspondence on Covid-19 vaccines in BMJ and other publications, since the roll out.

      As yet I have not been invited by my GP to receive a dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, nor am I reassured by the statements made by the two regulators, EMA and MHRA. They may not have been able to find a conclusive causal link to the vaccine and blood clot disorders, however they cannot rule the possibility out as 100% safe. Nothing in science and medicine can be ever be guaranteed 100%!

      Several correspondents have raised their concerns over how the vaccination regime has been managed and altered, notably AK Arand, for example the debacle on the interval between doses being changed to up to 12 weeks. The suggestion that vaccine brands could be possible mixed is another concern.

      As a patient, 60 I am not against vaccination itself, I have in the past received many for example, BCG, Smallpox, Polio, these were all fully approved.

      I have never consented to receive a novel recombinant/genetic type vaccine such as the Viral vector Astra Zeneca vaccine developed and approved in under a year, which does not to me appear to be a vaccine in the traditional sense such as an inactivated vaccine. It is more akin to gene therapy.

      Moreover since this vaccine only has one year temporary emergency approval, it does not give me reassurance it or any of the other “approved” covid-19 vaccines are safe. A report in MIT technology review suggested that vaccines such not be given emergency approval as it undermines public confidence .

      I am naturally risk averse, I have carefully assessed my current living situation living alone in a rural location miles from any human contacts, I limit my travel for necessary supplies and activities and always wear appropriate PPE and sanitise and have not to date had Covid-19 nor met anyone who has.

      I read a rather concerning report regarding an acrimonious lawsuit between an Astra Zeneca trial volunteer and the Serum Institute in India and vice versa, this does not bode well.

      I am very surprised UK has to obtain its vaccines from a third world supplier. Not only does it make a long complicated supply chain (as in the case of PPE), it poses concerns over quality standards and public confidence. It also compromises the UK government’s low carbon procurement policy. I understand that 1.7m doses of the 5m doses UK have ordered from the Serum institute have problems and need retesting .

      Had the UK during the 1980s-90s under the Thatcher regime not run its industry into the ground and converted to a service based economy, it might have been able to have supplied vital equipment, PPE at the beginning of the pandemic and reduced the deaths from 125,000. Sourcing vaccines from third world suppliers does not make any sense at all.

      I am prepared to consent to receive a vaccination against Sars-cov-2 virus, but only when I am satisfied it is safe and effective. So far I am unconvinced by the EMA and MHRA statements and I am not impressed when vaccination interval goalposts are altered to 12 weeks, to me this is risky as it exposes patients to possible infection and it is contrary to the original trial regime and manufacturer’s instructions for use. In addition, as your frequent correspondent JK Arand has pointed out, invalidates the consent to vaccinate.

      The other issue I would like to raise is choice of vaccines for patients. Why cannot GPs and vaccinators not be given several types to offer patients like medicines? I am reluctant to agree to either the mRNA and viral vector type vaccines (they seem far too novel), I might agree to say a protein subunit one such as the Novavax, but only after a year or more when its adverse reactions and unintended effects are better understood.

      I believe that the vaccine roll out should have been delayed until 2022 as suggested by the Royal Society Delve report indicated. This would have allowed a follow up pilot study to determine possible adverse reactions prior to mass roll out (5).

      I am reminded by my latin tutor at Stowe, PG Hunter, Festina lente, make haste slowly.

      • Bob the Builder says:

        Yes they should have carried out a pre market approval study 2021-2 before mass roll out, I agree. The nature of cov-19 variants means 2-shot vaccines, will become obsolete. They will be replaced by 1-shot vaccines and a winter booster, much easier to carry out than 2 doses and a booster! UK has only done 26m single doses of AZ.

      • Robin Smith says:

        Why are death rates and positive test rates coming down significantly in the UK where the vaccine roll out is relatively successful whilst in many other European countries the death rates and positive test rates are rising ?

    • Jay says:

      And this has what to do with Lise Davidsen????

  • Maria M says:

    Thanks to Jonas “Patient Zero” Kaufmann.

  • poyu sung says:

    I was there listening her Leonore (after Daily Telegraph etc fuss about tickets sold out to ROH friends. should I say lucky me?) Covid just landed in the UK at the time, people didn‘t wear mask, full house mostly old people, they coughed. I wonder how many people got Covid then?

  • caranome says:

    As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

  • sam.smith says:

    If you go to London, or UK in general, what do you expect regardless of any triumphant vaccine roll out lately? But hey, she recovered – good for her, so many others haven’t. It’s all me, me, me – no awareness, no reflection, no compassion.

  • In says:

    Badly? Fatigue and loss of taste and smell?
    Well , others died of it.