Barcelona opera house reopens to an audience of plants

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house reopened Monday and performed its first concert since the coronavirus lockdown — to an audience that didn’t have to worry about social distancing.

Instead of people, the UceLi Quartet played Giacomo Puccini’s I Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums) for 2,292 plants, one for each seat in the theatre. The concert was also livestreamed for humans to watch.

“After a strange, painful period, the creator, the Liceu’s artistic director and the curator Blanca de la Torre offer us a different perspective for our return to activity, a perspective that brings us closer to something as essential as our relationship with nature,” according to a release on the Liceu’s website.

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Musicians rehearse at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, June 22, 2020. The Gran Teatre del Liceu reopens its doors, in which the 2,292 seats of the auditorium will be occupied on this occasion by plants. It will be on 22 June, broadcast live online, when the UceLi Quartet string quartet performs Puccini’s “Crisantemi” for this verdant public, brought in from local nurseries.
Musicians rehearse at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, June 22, 2020. The Gran Teatre del Liceu reopens its doors, in which the 2,292 seats of the auditorium will be occupied on this occasion by plants. It will be on 22 June, broadcast live online, when the UceLi Quartet string quartet performs Puccini’s “Crisantemi” for this verdant public, brought in from local nurseries. Emilio Morenatti / AP

The event was conceived by Spanish artist Eugenio Ampudia, who said he was inspired by nature during the pandemic.

“I heard many more birds singing. And the plants in my garden and outside growing faster. And, without a doubt, I thought that maybe I could now relate in a much intimate way with people and nature,” he said before the performance.

At the end of the eight-minute concert, the sound of leaves and branches blowing in the wind resonated throughout the opera house like applause.

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The theatre says it will gift the plants to local health workers as a thank you for their efforts during the pandemic. Spain’s national state of emergency was lifted on Sunday after three months of restrictions on movement and assembly.

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meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 The Associated Press

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