Serenading plants: Barcelona opera reopens with unusual concert

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona’s Liceu opera house reopened its doors on Monday for the first time in over three months to hold a concert - exclusively for a quiet, leafy audience of nearly 2,300 house plants,

Organisers said the intention was to reflect on the absurdity of the human condition in the era of the coronavirus, which deprives people of their position as spectators.

“Nature advanced to occupy the spaces we snatched from it,” executive producer Eugenio Ampudio said on stage at an afternoon rehearsal before the concert.

“Can we extend our empathy? Let’s begin with art and music, in a great theatre, by inviting nature in,” he said inside the eclectic, neo-classical venue that dates back to the 19th century and is one of Europe’s largest opera houses.

After the concert, which was live streamed here, the 2,292 nursery plants placed on every seat were to be donated to frontline health workers.

The “Concert for the Biocene” was made possible by the ending of Spain’s state of emergency on Sunday. It featured a string quartet playing Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s “Chrysanthemum”, chosen for its requiem-like sadness.

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The Liceu observed all the usual rituals of a regular musical performance, with announcements given over loud speakers that the concert was about to begin.

Both before and after the six-minute performance, the four elegantly-dressed musicians respectfully bowed to the “audience”.

The Liceu said it hoped the show would reaffirm the value of art, music and nature and serve as a roadmap for returning to normal activity after the pandemic.

Spain has been one of the nations worst-affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 28,323 deaths and 246,272 cases so far.

Reporting by Luis Felipe Castilleja and Joan Faus; Writing by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Joan Faus; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Gareth Jones