Singer cancels her Vienna farewell over new Covid rules

Singer cancels her Vienna farewell over new Covid rules


norman lebrecht

October 06, 2021

The mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Kulman was planning to say goodbye to her loyal Vienna audience with a Musikverein recital on October 27.

Elisabeth, 48, is ending her career early in dismay at the state of the global music industry and the way its treats its artists.

Today, she called off her final recital in protest at the reimposition of 2G rules in Vienna, meaning that the Musikverein can exclude people who have no proof of a Covid vaccination. Music, she insists in a near-tearful video must be inclusive. ‘It is universal, it brings people together” she says. Anything less is just not music.

Watch her reasoning here:



  • Knowing Clam says:

    It must be amazing to be so deluded as to think that her little recital is worth risking the health and lives of others.

    • May says:

      Sorry KC, she’s not the one who’s deluded.

      2G is a worthless policy implemented by impotent politicians who neither take the time to read reports nor have any creativity to design policy which might actually be helpful. Kulman is brave to stand up to the discrimination. 2G is apartheid. 2G is blatant disregard for basic rights of citizens.

      Still reading? Good. Being vaccinated doesn’t stop the spread of Covid. Vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons carry the same viral load, which can then be passed to other persons. Still don’t believe me? Then let’s talk again after you’ve done your homework.

      • Bhima says:

        Vaccinated people have their peak viral load for a shorter period of time, so they are less likely to spread the disease to others. Also, vaccinated people are less likely to *get* COVID-19, which also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.

        Please don’t spread misinformation.

      • Anonymous says:

        The vaccinated are one-fifth as likely to be infected as the unvaccinated, and the viral load of an unifected person is zero. The policy also protects the unvaccinated from attending a concert that could seriously endanger their health, just as air travelers are forced to wear a seat belt for their own protection. The risk of catching COVID from concert attendance is far higher than the risk of serious injury or death from traveling in a plane.

        I hope she will soon publicize the waves of grief that overcome her once she realizes that the artist’s fees she has so selfishly insisted on throughout her career (and the admission fees they necessitate) have meant that her art has never truly been universal and accessible to everyone. (In the end, she can perhaps console herself by concluding that her need to earn a living was more noble and justifiable than the desire on the part of most concertgoers to avoid a totally unnecessary increased risk of disease or death.)

        Now that she is retired and has free time on her hands, she could also volunteer in a COVID ward. That will provider the basis for some additional tearful videos.

        • Kyle says:

          “Selfishly insisted.” Wow. That’s where you lost me, Anonymous.

          And the point where you compare simply CATCHING COVID that has a 97 – 99.75% recovery rate with serious injury or death from [it actually almost doesn’t matter what, fill in the blank] is where you sound hysterical.

          I apologize, because I usually find a way to be more civil than what I just wrote. You flummoxed me tonight.

          • Anonymous says:

            In your emotional state you seemed to have skipped the first paragraph of my short post where I note that many activities carrying lower risks of injury or death than COVID are routinely regulated. Only a small percentage of drivers is ever involved in a life-threating automobile crash and only a small number of non-smokers ever die of lung cancer, yet we mandate seat belt use and smoke-free public areas. To cite an even more analogous case, polio, at its peak, disabled (not killed) only 20,000 Americans a year compared to the 700,000 (likely undercounted) killed and thousands more permanently disabled by COVID in the US last 18 months, yet mandatory polio vaccinations are a widely accepted element of public health policy. In addition, the relatively high survival figures you cite, have been achieved only as a result of the heroic and enormously expensive efforts of health care workers. That is why I suggested that this singer, like anyone objecting to minimally intrusive efforts to mitigate this epidemic, such as requiring unvaccinated people to stay away from concerts for the duration of the epidemic, step into the shoes of medical professionals to understand the pain, effort, and expense that make her insouciance possible.

            You and I can debate whether the level of death and disability COVID has caused to-date is an acceptable risk to bear in life, but, what you and I think doesn’t really matter. The overwhelming consensus in Western societies is that the current level of death and disability is not tolerable. What precisely would this singer (and presumed public health expert) have governments do to respond to the desires of its citizens? Governments really only have two options. First, they can try to cure everyone who gets infected, which they are already doing to their maximum, at great financial cost to taxpayers and insurers and great physical and emotional cost to health care workers. Second, they can push everyone to get vaccinated. Other than masking and social distancing, there really are no other options available.

            Like this singer, we would all like to live in a child’s word where everything is allowed and nothing is prohibited, but most of us, including the Austrian government, live in the adult world. Ideally, everyone would spend as much time as possible in the contemplation and enjoyment of great art, but certain realities make that impossible. Far more people have been and will have been denied the enjoyment of art that they ideally deserve by the financial realities of life than by COVID restrictions. Many, many people, through no fault of their own, cannot afford to go to any concerts. Obviously, this singer could expand the pool of people who can enjoy great music by performing for free. If she feels comfortable maligning the Austrian government’s good faith and scientifically informed effort to mitigate an epidemic as divisive and anti-art, I feel comfortable maligning her totally understandable need to earn a living as mere selfishness. Both are nonsense.

          • Kyle says:

            Your response didn’t even attempt to justify the comparison I described as sounding hysterical.

          • Anonymous says:

            The you must not have a point since the second post explains in even greater detail why there is nothing hysterical about the policy or my support of it. It might be better if you presented a rational argument rather than trying to read emotions into a post (which, in this case didn’t exist) and then criticising them.

          • Kyle says:

            I did not write that the policy or your support of it sounded hysterical, which is why your second post didn’t address my observation. I wrote the your comparison of simply catching COVID-19 to serious injury or death from [anything else] sounded hysterical.

            My rational argument is that such a comparison is irresponsible.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Yeah, they’ll be dropping in the aisles…

    • Peter says:

      Lied recitals kill!! Best greetings from the Covid storm troopers, always on alert for the government

  • Paul Dawson says:

    ….. not with a bang but a whimper.

  • MacroV says:

    Maybe she should retire for stupidity; she could have set an example, saying “Please come to my show, but you need to get the vaccine, for everybody’s sake.”

  • Dr. Science Christ says:

    How ignorant. Music has always and will always been specifically for those who do the right thing. Those who politicize the vaccine shouldn’t infringe on the right of others to enjoy music the way it has always been enjoyed: safely.

  • PK says:

    I am just gonna post this here as it describes clearly (and with nice sense of humor) the absolute idiocy of the situation:

  • Günther Kraus says:

    The transition to the temporary “2G” rule in Vienna was announced weeks ago, giving plenty of time for her fans to get the JnJ vaccine and be allowed to come hear her farewell performance.

    Nobody is forcing anybody to be vaccinated, but refusing to get a vaccine (at least in Austria) means one must make peace with giving up certain luxuries.

    • Hayne says:

      So coercion isn’t force. Sure. I know musicians who felt coerced to get the jab or lose their job.
      You pro vax people act like the vaccines don’t work when you’re so afraid.
      You would be right.
      As you know, vaccinated people can now be super spreaders.
      Good for Elisabeth! She is brave.

  • Gustavo says:

    This is pathetic. She takes more than 5 minutes to explain here personal views on what music is for her as a performer.

    Music in fact is something very exclusive and intimate as it is composed by individual egomaniacs who tend to hide away in remote places to scribble their feelings onto paper. The only reason why music gets performed is the commercial interest of the producer and the social or emotional benefit of the receptor, which is a random group of egomaniacs who are unable to compose and/or perform music.

    However, I also don’t quite understand why 3G wouldn’t be an acceptable measure for Vienna, unless the test results were really crap.

    Bavaria is trialling 3G+ which only allows the apparently more reliable PCR-tests.

  • George says:

    What’s so terrible about getting vaccinated?

    • Kyle says:

      Nothing – for the overwhelming majority of people.

      What’s so terrible about catching COVID-19? Nothing – for the overwhelming majority of people.

      Even more to the point, what’s so terrible about natural immunity? Nothing – For ~100% of the overwhelming majority of people for whom catching COVID-19 was not so terrible.

  • Althea T-H says:

    Wear a mask, Everybody: and keep your (social) distance.

    Those are the practices that interrupt viral transmission.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      It’s worked so well that, eighteen months later, we’re still being coerced into following these rules even though covid has been a spent force for a while.

      • (sigh) says:

        A spent force? With a quarter of a million new case reports yesterday, and more than 4,000 new deaths worldwide? Not hardly.
        If it seems it’s beginning to subside, might that be precisely because so many people have followed the guidelines for the last eighteen months?