Just five days before they were to perform in front of a live audience for the first time in almost two months, the singers of the Paris Opera learned that they could not reopen before January because France’s cases of coronavirus remained stubbornly high.
So they decided to film their performance of a work by a young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and 18th century French composers Chevalier de Saint-Georges and Andre Gretry and offer it on a new video-on-demand portal launched last week by Opera de Paris, which operates the Garnier and Bastille opera houses.
“Of course it’s sad, but we’re very happy to be able to film this concert, especially since some pieces that will be played have never been recorded,” said French soprano Pauline Texier.
The French government announced in November that a lockdown introduced in late October to address a second coronavirus wave would be partially lifted by December 15 and would include the reopening of cultural facilities.
But last Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said museums, cinemas and theaters would not reopen until early January, as the goal of keeping daily new infections below 5,000 had not been achieved.
“For me, it is a real pity that we are not able to perform at the moment. Because we, as artists, are incomplete without the public,” Fernando Escalona, a Venezuelan office clerk, told Reuters during the rehearsal.
People from the arts and entertainment world protested in Paris on Tuesday against the government’s decision.
Castex said that extra financial support would be granted to artists and that a meeting would be held on January 7 to see if it was possible to resume them.
Not being able to perform in front of the audience has “become the new norm”, said the American base Aaron Pendleton.
“But we can still share our work and we can still work so we are lucky to have it,” he added.