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Barcelona’s Liceu theater reopens to a sea of green, with plants replacing patrons

Musicians rehearse at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona to an audience of plants on Monday.
Musicians rehearse at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona to an audience of plants on Monday.
(Emilio Morenatti / Associated Press)

Barcelona’s stately Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house took the meaning of live audience to a new level Monday amid coronavirus restrictions that have shut down venues worldwide.

The Liceu reopened for its first concert since mid-March with a livestreamed performance of Puccini’s “Crisantemi” by the UceLi Quartet. But instead of patrons, 2,292 plants from local nurseries packed the Spanish theater, creating a sea of green amid the venue’s red interior.

“The Liceu … welcomes and leads a highly symbolic act that defends the value of art, music and nature as a letter of introduction to our return to activity,” the theater said in a statement on its website.

Spanish conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia created the special performance, which was dubbed “Concierto para el bioceno.” After being serenaded by the quartet, the plants were to be given to healthcare workers, primarily those in the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, to acknowledge their work on the front lines of the pandemic.

A nine-minute video of the performance captured the quartet alone onstage, with cameras panning across rows and rows of leafy greens. The plants rustled at the end of the concert, as if emulating applause as the musicians took a bow.

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Other European venues are following the Liceu’s lead in reopening at a time when American theaters and opera houses remain closed.


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