When a tumour was found on Doug MacIntyre’s vocal chord five years ago, the Nanaimo resident thought he would never be able to sing again.
That made it all the more meaningful when this fall he sang in his first opera as a member of the chorus in the Opera Nanaimo production of La Bohème at Malaspina Theatre. He said it was a “pinch-me” moment.
“Imagine: Somebody with throat cancer singing in an opera. I mean, singing in Italian,” MacIntyre said. “It was a golden moment. I cried.”
MacIntyre had undergone 35 chemotherapy and radiation treatments in a seven-week span and was given an anti-nausea pill that “turned me into a zombie.” After his time in hospital his voice was “fairly raspy” and he was under doctor’s orders: No singing for the next six months.
Over the years MacIntyre has returned to hospital for regular checkups in which a camera is fed through his nose so his doctor can get a better look at his throat. This month he undergoes his final checkup and then he’s “totally clear.”
“When [the doctor] goes down there, at first he said ‘purple.’ And then next time: ‘Purple,’” MacIntyre said. “And then one day he said ‘pink’ and that’s what you want. You want pink.”
MacIntyre said performing La Bohème was a “fabulous experience.” He said both shows were sold out and received standing ovations and he gives a lot of credit to Opera Nanaimo artistic director Carol Fetherston. He said she was decisive and cool and without her “boundless energy” the production would never have happened.
“She was the blood of it,” he said.
MacIntyre said the venue suited the opera, as Malaspina Theatre’s projected stage brought the performers and viewers close together.
“The audience is wrapped around … so you’re in right there with them and it made the opera intimate,” he said. “And Bohème was perfect for that because the love story between Mimi and Rodolfo is a very intimate thing.”
MacIntyre said he’s excited to be a part of the next Opera Nanaimo production. But before then he has one last check-up to attend. And he hopes to see pink.