The show goes on at Madrid´s opera house despite pandemic – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2020-11-21 02:21:24 –

Madrid (AP) — No one is masked on stage at the Teatro Real Opera House in Spain, and that alone looks strange …

Madrid (AP) — No one is masked on stage at the Teatro Real Opera House in Spain, and that alone looks strange these days in a pandemic.

And it’s even before the second act scene of Antonín Dvorak’s “Rusalka”. It’s about the spirit of water that falls in love with the mortal. Cast members kiss and fumble in a false non-social distance orgy.

Many of the world’s major venues are closed, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Covent Garden in London, and La Scala in Milan, but the performances at Teatro Real in Madrid make you forget about the coronavirus. ..

Teatro Real is located in one of the cities that suffered the most virus damage, and since July, despite the small number of spectators, it has invested in safety measures to perform performances and made great efforts to continue the show. I’m paying.

In March and April, infections surged and hospitals in Madrid were filled with COVID-19 patients. It was eased in the summer, but another wave saw a surge in incidents in the city and surrounding areas. Hospital occupancy rates are steadily declining and authorities now appear to have an advantage. Overall, the Spanish Ministry of Health has recorded more than 1.54 million cases, with approximately 42,300 reportedly dead from the virus.

“Theatres and culture must always bet open,” Teatro Real’s managing director Ignacio Garcia Berenger told The Associated Press. “It’s not about going against the flow or trying to do extraordinary things … that’s what we believe we have to do.”

With an annual budget of 60 million euros ($ 71 million), Spain’s major cultural centers have acknowledged the ability and ability to continue.

García-Belenguer, funded by public grants, sponsors and tickets, makes Teatro Real a unique place to reach the break-even point, unlike other opera houses, which are usually mostly public or private. Say there is. He added that additional state funding for the pandemic would also help.

However, it also has the luck of being in an area that has decided to take another approach to the virus and apply less and more local restrictions, with less attendance at bars, restaurants and cultural institutions. Allows you to stay open.

It was closed during Spain’s three-month state imprisonment from March to May, but preparations for reopening continued. In July, we developed a series of measures to perform the work with the audience “La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi. Since then, he has performed two operas, ballet and flamenco, and plans for the full season of 2021.

Anyone who enters the theater will have the machine automatically measure the temperature. There are plenty of hand sanitizers and surgical masks are supplied to all. There is a main theater, changing rooms, UV lamps for disinfecting clothing, and the air conditioner is tuned to ensure a healthier air flow and temperature.

García-Belenguer says he will spend € 1 million ($ 1.2 million) on security measures by the end of the year.

“I feel like a miracle,” says Asmik Gregorian, a Lithuanian soprano star of “Rusalka,” a collaboration with companies in Dresden, Bologna, Barcelona and Valencia. Those sites will not be able to perform opera for some time.

“We’re constantly being tested and we use masks, so it’s very tough in the theater,” said Grigorian, who made his debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in October 2021, with no shows in Berlin or elsewhere. It is said that it was canceled in a certain time.

“I don’t know where to go after Madrid,” she says. “If everything is locked down, I’ll stay in Madrid.”

She and Christof Loy, director of “Rusalka,” believe that Madrid is leading the way.

“I think it’s wrong for the government to close the theater,” Roy said. “People need music, they need art.”

García-Belenguer compares this situation with the currently widely accepted security measures adopted after the September 11 terrorist attack. “New normality” demands “deployments to minimize health risks when someone comes to the theater or board an airplane,” he says.

The key to staying open during the pandemic was Teatro Real’s decision to establish a medical committee with advice from experts in five Madrid hospitals.

Behind the scenes, masks are mandatory for everyone. Casts, choruses and orchestras are tested every three days, and others are regularly monitored. Stagehands and other workers must complete a daily health questionnaire.

There are isolated positive tests, but in each, the theater says it reacts quickly and often tests up to 50 people who have come into contact with an infected person.

The average audience of 1,000 or more (about 65% of normal capacity) is divided into 19 sectors, with separate refresh areas and toilets, and a small usher to ensure no roaming.

“It’s a complex system that tries to minimize the impact,” said García-Belenguer.

He knows that any outbreak may prove embarrassing. At Verdi’s “Masquerade” performance in September, the show was interrupted after a loud protest that the cheap seats were packed together, and the memory of when it was finally canceled is still fresh. However, the spectators with expensive seats have enough space.

At the time, the opera house was fully regulated, but since then it has been common to have one in two seats.

Contributed by Associated Press photographer Bernat Armangue.

Follow the Associated Press at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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