Barcelona Opera Reopens With Performance for Nearly 3,000 Plants

After emerging from coronavirus lockdown, Spain’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house hosted its first concert since mid-March—for an audience full of plants.

Barcelona Opera Reopens With Performance for Nearly 3,000 Plants

The Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona played its first concert after coronavirus lockdown for an audience of 2,292 plants—one for each seat in the theater.

Photo by AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

When the Gran Teatre del Liceu reopened on Monday, June 22, for its first concert since Spain’s coronavirus lockdown, the Barcelona opera house did so with a live performance for a full house—of flora, that is.

Instead of people, the Gran Teatre del Liceu filled each of its seats with 2,292 plants for the concert, which the Barcelona theater described as a prelude to its 2020/21 season in a press release. During eight-minute performance, called “Concierto Para El Bioceno,” the UceLi Quartet played Giacomo Puccini’s “I Crisantemi” (Chrysanthemums)—a fitting tune for the verdant audience. At the end of the concert, which was also livestreamed for people to watch from home, the quartet was met not with the familiar sounds of people clapping and cheering, but instead with the faint rustling of leaves and branches—perhaps the greenery’s own version of an applause.

Spanish conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia, who conceived the event, said he was inspired by nature while sheltering in place during the lockdown. “I heard many more birds singing. And the plants in my garden and outside growing faster. Without a doubt, I thought that maybe I could now relate in a much [more] intimate way with people and nature,” Ampudia said before the performance.

Following this “strange, painful period,” concert organizers wanted to “offer a different perspective for our return to activity, a perspective that brings us closer to something as essential as our relationship with nature,” Gran Teatre del Liceu said in a statement. Each of the plants, which were brought in from local nurseries for the performance, will be donated to 2,292 local health care professionals as a thank you for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across Spain, cultural venues were allowed to reopen with a limited number of spectators from Sunday, June 21, after the country’s national state of emergency was lifted following three months of restrictions. According to Gran Teatre del Liceu’s online calendar, the 19th-century opera house in La Rambla has upcoming concerts scheduled—for human audiences—starting in July.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.

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