Barcelona opera reopens to full house — of plants

The World

The stage lights turned back on in Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu on Monday, a day after Spain's three-month lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic came to an end.

The show opened with the traditional announcement in Catalan asking the audience to turn their cell phones off and avoid taking photos. But the string quartet walked into an unusual performance. This time, they played Puccini's "Crisantemi" to a verdant audience of 2,292 plants that filled the venue to capacity. No crowds were present — just plants from a local nursery.

Spanish conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia created the performance as a way to highlight how art, music and nature can help people get through this difficult time of the pandemic. After the concert, the plants were donated to health workers.

"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," read the event press release.

Related: Art during the coronavirus pandemic

The Liceu, located in the La Rambla area in central Barcelona, is one of the largest and most important opera halls in the world. The symbolic show comes as Spain slowly reopens after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain ended a state of emergency on Sunday that was imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. Spaniards are now allowed to move freely around the country — something they have not been able to do since March 14, when the lockdown was imposed. People are required to wear masks in public when social distancing measures cannot be observed.

Spain has recorded more than 245,000 coronavirus cases and more than 28,000 deaths.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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