Madrid, with renewed Covid spike, claims operatic triumph

Madrid, with renewed Covid spike, claims operatic triumph


norman lebrecht

July 30, 2020

The Spanish capital has an alarming rise in Covid infections and the threat of a new lockdown.

Last night, its reopened Teatro Real ended an adventurous run of Traviata, with 50 percent capacity.

No new infections, says the theatre.

Here’s the press release:

– Between July 1 and 29, 27 performances of La traviata were performed at the Teatro Real without a trace of COVID-19 among the members of the cast, chorus, orchestra, theatre staff or audience.

– A total of 22.000 spectators saw the opera, superseding the objective of a 50% capacity in the theatre for every performance.

– The meticulous safety measures implemented by the Teatro Real were followed without incident by the compliant audience at all times.

– With the last performance on July 29, the Teatro Real has succeeded in its exciting and very complex project. The 300 members of staff have shown extraordinary commitment and have worked in close partnership with the singers (four casts), the Coro y Orquesta Titulares del Teatro Real (the Chorus and Orchestra of the theatre), conductor Nicola Luisotti and stage director Leo Castaldi.

– The health safety protocol designed by the medical committee of the Teatro Real, with the participation of its “Prevención e Infraestructuras” teams, is available to any Spanish or foreign institution which requests it.

– So that Spain and the rest of the world could watch the first complete opera performed on stage after the obligatory lockdown period, La traviata was broadcast live and at no charge on MyOperaPlayer –the streaming platform of the Teatro Real- and on TVE (Spanish National Television).

– For the last two months the Teatro Real has been at work with the artistic team of Un ballo in maschera, the title to open the 2020-2021 season, so that the production can be carried out in compliance with safety rulings and by adapting the original scenography, costumes and stage direction to the new circumstances.

The Teatro Real reopens its doors to the public on September 16.


Watch video clip here.


  • Rodrigo says:

    And US soprano Lisette Oropesa made history last night at Teatro Real in Traviata as the 1st woman in its history to perform an encore there.

    • Jay says:

      People are dying by the thousands and she is “making history” singing an encore ? Perhaps
      the theatre real can put up a plaque noting the
      historic event listing the number who died while
      she sang an ” historical ” encore.Deplorable ……..

      • Rodrigo says:

        Jay, people should can & should still enjoy culture during a pandemic. It calms and comforts us. Losing ourselves temporarily to realize that opera history being is made, even in these most dire of times, is cathartic.

        Instead of being able to lose ourselves in the world of opera, would you prefer that we just sit around and listen to the news and contemplate coronavirus? That would probably kill us off faster than the virus itself.

        • buxtehude says:

          Not me Rodrigo. If I had my way I’d plunge all the way down into culture-to-the-max, to casts of hundreds and an audience of many thousands all singing into each others’ faces! That’s what Life is, instead of a waiting-for-death, isn’t that so?

      • Cynical Bystander says:

        ‘Deplorable…….’ The same could be said for your hysterical comment. People die in their thousands every day and as much as Covid is an additional cause of mortality it is far from the only one and as the saying goes ‘life must go on’. The artists that are performing are helping in no small way to give something to look forward to other than the constant drip drip of alarmism that now permeates everything. You may choose to deplore the views of others who do not share your sententiousness but for many of us an opera, performed before an audience that appreciates the moment is more to be applauded than condemned.

        • Tiredofitall says:

          Ah, yes. Instant gratification is what life is about.

          You ignore the word “avoidable”. Repeat after me…”Contact with Covid-19 is avoidable.” Keep repeating it until the pandemic has subsided.

          This isn’t alarmism. It’s just common sense.

        • Jay says:

          Cynical ; let us forget the virus for the moment and pretend you have an understanding for the art—– to repeat the
          letter scene shows a lack of understanding
          the drama and what it represents, your crowd of opera lovers are applauding vocal gymnastics as the real thing and any air
          head soprano will milk it for all its worth .
          They wait for the high e or whatever note suits their fancy then scream approval.
          Let us hope you never have to hear from a
          medic” life must go on” so zip up the body bag and off to the opera .

          • Cynical Bystander says:

            “Any air head soprano will milk it for all its worth.”

            You have a truly delightful way of venting your spleen. How irksome those of us who go to something to actually enjoy the experience must be for those who exist on your higher plane

      • Helvia says:

        Many people are dying, it is true. But life goes on and music is helping many of us to get through. I thank all singers and theatres that are streaming operas and concerts , confinement has been less hard with them.

      • Alter Frager says:

        Please don‘t use a pandemic to attack the arts.

    • Paul BW says:

      Well… not history actually, seems it was just a lamentable way of self-promotion in the end… and this in the circumstances of most of her colleague singers struggling to live throughout this period, having lost all of their contracts… shameful and despicable!
      A big Boooo to her for this and for also insulting her stage partners (the two Germonts at least)

      • Rodrigo says:

        Wow. That’s unbelievable. Clacques have been around forever but this takes them to a whole new level.

        Some in the audience are claiming this didn’t actually happen, but others point out that it also happened for Lucia at the Real a few yrs ago. Same singer. She’s got a serious clacque in Madrid.

  • Jodelet says:

    Operas are scheduled in Madrid in compliance with all the protocols set by the health authorities and in England thousands of people gather to celebrate the successes of their football teams (something that does not happen in Spain). Honestly, I think what is happening in England is much more dangerous to health than what is happening in Spain.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Let’s wait to see if any audience members contract covid (it can take a couple of weeks to find out) and if contact tracing leads back to the opera house. I hope not — because then, the feasibility and effectiveness of protocols of strict in-house testing and distanced audiences will have been reinforced. (Statistical demonstration of efficacy will require data from more such events, but one safe event would build the confidence to try more.)

    Fingers crossed — and congratulations, in the meantime, to Lisette Oropesa!

  • David Boxwell says:

    An opera about a young woman coughing her lungs out doesn’t seem like a wartime “morale booster” now.

  • Tone row says:

    Not downplaying any potential risks from coronavirus, but just on a point of fact, nowhere in Europe are people “dying in their thousands” from Covid at present or at any point over the last 3 months

  • fflambeau says:

    It’s all about $$$$.