Zurich Opera phones in its orchestra and chorus

Zurich Opera phones in its orchestra and chorus


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2020

Zurich Opera House last night opened a full staged production of Boris Godunow, one of the biggest shows in the canon.

Barrie Kosky directed, Michael Volle sang the title role. There were 900 permitted in the audience.

Due to Covid distancing rules there was no room in the pit or on stage for the large orchestra and chorus.

They performed in the company’s rehearsal venue of the orchestra, about a kilometre away, and were streamed into the opera house though glass fibre cable.

Could that be the new normal?

Reviews have yet to appear.

Photos: Monika Rittershaus

Here’s the official version: The orchestra and chorus will perform from an external rehearsal room, which has been converted into a recording studio, and will be broadcast live to the Opernhaus for performances. The soloists will be on stage performing, breathing life into the music as they normally do. This mixture of live vocal performance, music broadcast live, and a specific spatial sound is unique to the Opernhaus. And this performance model enables the Opernhaus Zürich to make only minor changes to the season’s schedule of events.



  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Until Covid is over attending a live performance is more of an ordeal than a pleasure (but important for the survival of these institutions). Listening to recordings at home is much more enjoyable in current circumstances.

  • Pierre says:

    In Liège, we had premiered La Bohème directed by Frederic Chaslin last night – reduced orchestration and distance between players, but with weekly Covid tests for all the personnel and cast, great organisation from the administration as well as supple and willing local governement, we had a good amount of people in the hall (much more than half capacity it seemed).

    There will be no new normal, we just need to point out the good things that are happening so that politicians know that it is possible to have both safety protocols and a job for the cultural sector.

  • Alexander says:

    they could have placed chorus on the balconies from the both sides if they had a bit creativity ( altogether with some of the brass )…. can hardly imagine what would it be with Boris when Mr.Kosky’s staging is under way
    on the other hand I didn’t attend to judge here, so they might do it well …

  • violin accordion says:

    Orchestra coming out of loudspeakers?

    No thanks

  • Ken says:

    I experienced/endured/survived? half of Kosky’s take on “Pelléas” in Berlin three years ago, so don’t hold your breath.

  • Sam McElroy says:

    I hear from two cast principles that it is incredible! This video just shows how inventive they have been to keep things going. The ZO is leading the way.

  • violin accordion says:

    On September 30, playing on an enlarged stage, the full Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is playing live to 285 audience and live-streaming.

  • Papageno says:

    not worth attending eurotrash productions even in normal times.

  • Karl says:

    Pandemics end one way or another, vaccine or not. In five years this will all seem like a bad dream.