Madrid’s opera house defends itself after protestors force show cancellation

TENSIONS are running high as coronavirus outbreaks in Spain continue – even within Madrid’s royal opera house.

On Sunday, September 20, spectators loudly protested against being seated too close to each other amid spikes in Covid-19 infections, shouting for more than an hour and forcing Teatro Real to cancel Giuseppe Verdi’s “A Masked Ball”.

In a statement, the theatre has defended itself, and claimed the spectators were offered different seats, and even a ticket refund, but instead a “minority” of theatregoers shouted, jeered and clapped – even as the actors took to the stage to begin their performance.

Videos shared on social media by other members of the audience seemingly show rows full  in the cheaper, upper seats.

In the lower, pricier sections at the orchestra level of the auditorium, spectators appear to be separated by empty seats.

Teatro Real. CREDIT: @seazlucas

ABC reporter, Julio Bravo, covers opera for the Spanish newspaper. He said the protests were sparked by a small group of spectators in the mezzanine, who were clapping and shouting for the performance to be called off due to overcrowding.

Bravo added that he “had never seen anything quite like this in my 35 years in this job”.

He told the New York Times, “we all know that Spaniards are hot-blooded, and it is clear that we are now in a situation that helps forment protests and complaints”.

Attendance at the theatre was kept to 51.5 per cent – below the 75 per cent set by the regional government.

Regulations do not stipulate empty seats between audience members, but there should be a distance of 1.5 metres between people. Where this is not possible, masks must be worn.

Chairman of the body which manages the theatre, Gregorio Maranon, told a news conference on Monday, September 21, the Teatro Real had “respected the health norms” put in place by the regional government of Madrid to curb the spread of coronavirus and “even reinforced them”.

He added that the theatre management is looking at what measures can be put in place for future performances, and for those who “clearly felt in an uncomfortable situation”.

More than 850,000 Madrilienians, representing 13 per cent of the Spanish population, have had mobility restricted since Monday, to try to combat the advance of Covid-19.

The capital has seen numerous protests ahead of the new measures.

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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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