ROME (AP) – The Italian La Scala theater will reopen next week after a four-month stop on the corona virus with a series of four concerts for a diminished audience of 600, a third of its normal capacity.
General Manager Dominique Meyer said La Scala was reopened step by step as the theater, located in the capital of virus-stricken Lombardy, strives to meet Italy’s strict hygiene and social standards for both artists and audiences.
“I think the time has come for many music lovers to listen to live music again, even if resources are reduced,” Meyer told reporters.
During the concerts on July 6, 8, 13 and 15, small numbers of artists will perform on stage with arias, instrumental selections and other pieces. The concert of July 13 will see recent graduates of La Scala’s academy showcasing the future of opera, as the closing event brings members of the La Scala Philharmonic back home after a series of free concerts in Milan’s courtyards in June.
Meyer told reporters on Monday that he was pleasantly surprised that the theater, even with social distances, could seat up to 600 spectators with a capacity of over 2,000. He said La Scala worked with experts from the Sacco Infectious Diseases Hospital in Milan to ensure that all necessary health measures were taken.
“We are specialists in spectacle, but not in health,” he explained.
Concert-goers must wear protective masks that enter and exit the theater, but they can take them off as soon as they are seated. La Scala assumes that most tickets are sold in pairs, so the floor plan is arranged so that seats are occupied, with a gap between them.
No break is planned and the snack bar will remain closed to avoid line formation. Ticket prices range from 24-48 euros ($ 27- $ 53). There are plans to stream the concerts and future performances, although the details have not been worked out.
After the August hiatus, La Scala returns in September with a performance of Verdi’s Requiem at Milan’s Duomo Cathedral to remember Italy’s late virus, followed by Beethoven’s 9th at the theater on September 5.
Plans to resume full operas have been suspended, as the current virus-mitigation measures in Italy would prevent so many performers from performing on stage simultaneously, Meyer said.
The Lombardy region around Milan was zero from the European COVID-19 outbreak and still registers double and triple infections every day. But health officials say the situation is under control.
Italy has seen more than 240,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 34,700 deaths, according to a note from Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the pandemic’s real toll is higher due to limited testing and missed mild cases.
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