Breaking: Covid cluster hits Vienna opera

Breaking: Covid cluster hits Vienna opera


norman lebrecht

September 15, 2020

A performance of Merry Widow at Vienna’s Music and Art University (MUK) has yielded 24 confirmed Covid cases, ORF reports.

The circle of infections is widening and the State Opera has forced as a result of contact tracing to make two personnel changes.

Last night, Evelino Pidò jumped in to conduct L’Elisir d’amore and Javier Camarena sang the role of Nemorino in place of Liparit Avetisyan. The State Opera said it ‘immediately isolated all direct and indirect contacts of the person concerned and is subjecting them to daily tests to prevent further spread of the infection in the house’.

It’s like a rerun of Schnitzler’s play La Ronde.


UPDATE: It is being alleged that there was close contact between performers and audience members at the university. The Staatsoper’s chief Bogdan Roscic claims he saw a mingling ‘between the stage and the public area that should actually be unthinkable.


  • John Rook says:

    ‘Circle of infections’ probably meaning people who don’t even realise they have it, such is the strength of the virus these days. More baseless hysteria.

    • Petros LInardos says:

      More anti-information hysteria.

      • Doc Martin says:

        US data is not particularly relevant to Austria. The former is a country which stupidly allowed Cov-19 to run rampant unchecked, the latter had the sense to implement early lockdown, testing, track and trace with enforcement. The ECDC data confirm this.

    • Doc Martin says:

      No, it means a locus of infection, journalists are not clinicians. They should avoid discussing anything remotely disease related. Across Europe there has been a steady rise since lockdown restrictions have relaxed. UK being a good example, raves, house parties, beach parties, holidays abroad. Data from ECDC for Austria , as of 15 September.

      Cumulative cases, 33,884; cumulative deaths 757; 73.1 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000; 0.3 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths per 100 000.

      Austria compared to UK is in better shape since they not only locked down and tested earlier with contact tracing, but used the police to enforce it with hefty fines. They also asked for health certification for entry, eg from Italy then the main source.

      Cov-19 is a highly infectious respiratory disease which can lead to severe complications, for example sepsis, myocardial and pulmonary disease, reduced lung capacity. Many patients who have “recovered” tell me they still feel bad and require follow up with further treatment.

      Asymptomatic carrier transmission has not as yet been extensively quantified, as only those showing symptoms get tested, but it might explain flare ups. The current swab test has certain limitations like any diagnostic test, it cannot distinguish RNA fragments from live or dead Sars-cov-2, for example someone could still test positive after recovery for several weeks.

      This BMJ editorial article on Airborne transmission,
      supports the view of the larynx in creating aerosols hence choirs, operas etc would not be a great place to be at present. Make do with DVDs/Blu ray.

      (Doc Martin is a GP based in Belfast)

  • Doc Martin says:

    The major source of asymptomatic cov-19 is the young, who do not seem to get SD, masks, avoiding crowds, bars, raves etc. So during the summer holiday most of them will have acquired it by now or when they have returned to school/university.

    In Belfast’s Holyland a student “rising damp” quarter, there are now, £20/night house parties which will help to buck cov-19 cases no end. They will in due course pass it on to family, friends and the elderly. Expect a hard cov-19 winter in lockdown before Christmas folks.