The Liceu on La Rambla reopened on Monday for its first concert since the venue was forced to close in mid-March. But instead of people filling the 2292 seats of the beloved Catalan landmark, it was leafy house plants that enjoyed a day at the opera. They filled out the auditorium, including boxes and balconies, for a musical performance by the UceLi Quartet who performed Giacomo Puccini's Crisantemi, while human audiences were invited to listen at home via livestream.
Some studies have indicated that playing music to plants can promote healthier growth but that's not the reason why plants were there. The intention instead was to highlight how, in lockdown, we have become "an audience deprived of the possibility of being an audience," Víctor García de Gomar, the Liceu’s artistic director, told the Guardian.
Eugenio Ampudia, the artist behind the concert, elaborated further by saying the concert reflected what happened in Spain, and across the world, during lockdown when nature crept into empty public spaces normally occupied by people. It's hoped the concert will encourage human audiences to reassess their relationship with the natural world now that we are free to move again.
"After a strange, painful period, the creator, the Liceu's artistic director and the curator Blanca de la Torre offer us a different perspective for our return to activity, a perspective that brings us closer to something as essential as our relationship with nature," a press release on the Liceu's website stated.
The plants were selected from local nurseries and will be donated to 2292 health care professionals, one for every seat in the house. Organizers say they wanted to recognise frontline staff's efforts, particularly at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, for working on "the toughest front in a battle unprecedented for our generations."
Spain's state of emergency ended on Sunday and its borders opened to visitors from EU countries, except Portugal, as well as the UK and Schengen Area members outside the bloc.
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