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L.A. Opera’s first indoor show will be June 6. Here’s how vaccination rules work

Women in gowns enter open theater doors.
L.A. Opera audience members enter the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for opening night of the 2019-2020 season, cut short by COVID-19. The company is inviting patrons back inside the Chandler for the first time since the pandemic closure.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Opera is returning to the great indoors much sooner than expected: The company is scheduled to announce Monday that it will stage a free performance of “Oedipus Rex” inside Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on June 6.

That covers the who, what and when, but arts groups plotting their future with the pandemic not yet ended may be most interested in hearing the how: To attend the Chandler show, patrons must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results.

The Igor Stravinsky opera will mark the company’s first in-person performance inside the Chandler since the March 8, 2020, staging of “Roberto Devereux.” The final performance of that production on March 14 was canceled when major venues first declared temporary closures in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Guests attending “Oedipus Rex” will be asked at the door for proof of full vaccination (final shot received by May 23, at least two weeks before June 6) or negative results from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of curtain. Vaccinated audience members will be seated in the orchestra; unvaccinated attendees will be assigned socially distanced seating in the Founder’s Circle, which is one level up. (Vaccinated guests can request socially distanced seating too.) Capacity at the 3,156-seat venue will be limited to 600 to 800 guests.

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All audience members will be required to wear masks at all times during the 50-minute performance.

The free tickets will be released on a rolling basis, available first to patrons affected by pandemic show cancellations. The company also will use community engagement programs to invite healthcare workers and first responders. Any remaining tickets will be released at a later date.

The performance represents an important pivot for a company that has been limited to virtual performances. Back in July, L.A. Opera postponed all four productions planned for fall 2020 and projected losses of up to $31 million. It plans to continue with live shows this fall and has announced five mainstage productions, including Richard Wagner’s “Tannhäuser.”

In April, when Gov. Gavin Newson targeted June 15 as a date for the state to reopen fully, L.A. Opera was in the midst of organizing an outdoor performance of “Oedipus Rex” but had not committed to a date or performance site. The move indoors reflects the confidence in a state with the lowest infection rate in the nation.

It is also the company’s expression of faith in the safety of its building. As part of the Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in April received a UL “healthy building” verification, representing high standards for air quality. UL-verified buildings must use high-quality air filters and move fresh air effectively around the space. All Music Center venues — including the Chandler, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre — will facilitate four to six air changes per hour, which means the air volume of a building will be replaced an average of every 10 to 15 minutes.


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