Barcelona opera house stages protest rehearsal against new Covid-19 measures

Venue aims to show capacity limits should be adapted

The Liceu opera house during a protest rehearsal on December 24, 2020 (by Pau Cortina)
The Liceu opera house during a protest rehearsal on December 24, 2020 (by Pau Cortina) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

November 24, 2020 08:05 PM

The Gran Teatre de Liceu concert hall in Barcelona staged a protest rehearsal of their December show ‘Traviata’, on Tuesday, advocating against restrictions limiting its capacity to less than a quarter.

“We are pleased that this whole space is a safe place” vindicated Liceu’s CEO Valentí Oviedo prior to the start of the rehearsal.

Current capacity caps mean that cultural venues such as these can only operate at a maximum of 50% of their usual capacity with a 500 people limit.

The opera house can usually accommodate more than 2000 audience members, therefore such a cap leaves them working at only 21.8%.

Liceu raises its voice

The protest is taking place in two different actions, both under the slogan “Liceu wants to raise its voice for culture”.

The theater staged the show’s rehearsal in front of 500 audience members, the capacity cap currently in force, to drive home the point that they could accommodate more people.

Both Oviedo and the artistic director, Víctor García de Gomar, gave short speeches vindicating the idea that the government should adapt this cap to encompass larger venues. 

15,000 tickets to the show have already been sold, if capacity caps were lifted Oviedo and García de Gomar argue that all those who have bought tickets could still enjoy the show.

Oviedo vindicated that in September they had been able to operate at this level safely and effectively and that there was no reason this could not occur again.

As part of the protest, John Cage’s ‘4:33’, an entirely silent composition, was played before the start of the opera.

The venue’s luxurious balconies were nearly empty, with rows seating around three to four people maximum. 

After the performance of ‘Traviata’, from 8:30 pm until 8:00 am on Wednesday, Erik Satie’s ‘Vexations’ will be performed by the pianist Francesco Tristano. It is meant to highlight the sheer effort the arts industry has had to take on to survive during this pandemic.