Arts & Entertainment

Opera returns to Paris with concert dedicated to those fighting Covid

Paris, Jul 13 (efe-epa) .- The Palais Garnier reopened its historic palace doors on Monday with a Paris Opera concert in honour of those fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The monumental nineteenth-century building was forced to close mid-March due to Covid-19 and now lends its stage to two tribute concerts that mix classical music and opera before closing its doors again to undergo a renovation that has been brought forward due to the epidemic.

Under Philippe Jordan’s baton and José Luis Basso’s choir direction, music and applause return to Palais Garnier.

“It is a way of reconnecting with the public, of rediscovering the work,” Basso told Efe.

For the choir director, the reopening is also an opportunity to thank “the health personnel who have done so much in this difficult period”.

“It is very exciting, it touches us personally,” said Basso.

To ensure security measures are respected, the theatre can only open at half capacity, with some 1,000 spectators.

But even the musicians must comply with the health measures imposed by authorities to stop the spread of Covid-19, as Basso had to change the arrangement of the choir singers to respect social distancing.

“With the health problem, many questions came to mind. How could we do our work again? Sing again? Perform opera again? But the light shines again and we are all very excited to take part in this concert that will be broadcast worldwide,” he said.

Choir singers are used to singing together so that their voices can be coordinated better, but now, with a physical distance between them, Basso found some advantages.

” It is also positive because it forces choir singers to listen more carefully to their colleagues, with a distance that we were not used to,” he said.

Along with the choral pieces, the Paris Opera orchestra performed works by Paul Dukas and Richard Strauss and Baritone Stéphane Degout and soprano Julie Fuchs sang excerpts from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and the 41st symphony of “Jupiter”.

“It is a special emotion because, for everyone, the whole pandemic has been very strange, with complicated consequences. We are happy to return,” Degout told Efe.

The baritone acknowledged that during all these months he has missed the theatre and being able to perform in public, and stressed that it is important to bring the place back to life.

“We have to take care of the house, but also the vibrations that it harbours. A theatre, as beautiful as this, is nothing without music. We have to continue to give it breath,” he said.

The singer explained that dedicating the work to health personnel is somewhat magical.

“We will all need to unload an emotion that has been strong for many months. I hope that music will allow artists and the public to overcome this phase (…) It is a way of showing that there is still hope,” he said.

After these two concerts, the opera house curtains will close again to carry out renovation works on the stage.

After closing due to the coronavirus crisis, the managers of the Paris Opera decided to move forward events planned for the beginning of 2021. The months of closure, which led to the cancellation of 83 shows, have aggravated an already complicated economic situation for the institution, which, according to French media, has over 40 million euros in debts.EFE-EPA

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