Opera and plant fans alike tuned in on Monday evening to see Barcelona's premier opera hall, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, kick off its first post-pandemic performance to a full house, but with a decidedly different audience.
Instead of people, the UceLi Quartet performed Puccini's Cristantemi to an audience made of 2,292 potted plants from nurseries in the area, that's one plant for each seat in the venue. The idea was the work of Spanish conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia, who said the inspiration came from a connection he built with nature during the pandemic, according to The Guardian.
Humans could also tune in virtually as the Concert for the Biocene was live-streamed. Watch the nine-minute clip below, and keep watching past the eight-and-a-half minute mark to hear the surreal applause-like sound of leaves and branches rustling post-performance.
After the show, the theater said it gifted the plants to 2,292 local health workers specifically from the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, accompanied by a certificate from the artist, as a thank you for their efforts during the pandemic.
It came just one day after Spain ended its national state of emergency, lifting a lockdown that had been in place for three months. The country’s residents can now freely travel and visitors from the 26 European countries that allow visa-free travel can enter Spain without going through a two-week quarantine.
According to the Liceu’s artistic director, Víctor García de Gomar, the Concert for the Biocene is intended to help us ponder the current state of the human condition and how, in lockdown, we have become “a public deprived of the possibility of being public”.
He also added that he wanted the Liceu to become "a prescriber of happiness, of reflection, and sometimes of subtle metaphors that return a smile."