MILAN (AP) – The number of performers at the famous La Scala opera house in Milan who tested positive for the coronavirus has risen to 21, even as the theater had to close due to new government restrictions to curb the resurgence of the virus.
La Scala spokesman Paolo Besana confirmed on Tuesday that 18 members of the world-class choir and three woodwinds in the orchestra have the virus. That’s after two singers, including tenor Francesco Meli, tested positive ahead of last week’s scheduled concert performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Aida’.
Italian media also reported that 12 positive cases had been reported at the San Carlo Theater in Naples, involving management, orchestra, choir and dance troupe.
The new spike in virus cases in Italy is set in Milan, the capital of Lombardy, calling into question the celebrated gala season opener of La Scala on December 7. La Scala had launched a limited series of concerts and ballets in September with only 700 spectators instead of the usual 2,000, with opera concerts and ballet galas instead of fully staged performances.
It had planned to resume full staging in November, but the government decision has closed theaters until November 24.
The theater has not released the suspected source of contamination. But the infections underscore the delicacy of organizing singing performances where voices are necessarily projected, which can spread contamination.
Italy, the hometown of the opera, resumed classical music performances this summer after a strict 10-week block, with strict spacing rules between orchestra members and a restriction on the number of singers on stage.
The government closed all theaters this week in protest from star conductor Riccardo Muti, who appealed to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to “revitalize theater and musical activity to provide spiritual food, without which society is mistreated.”
Muti was scheduled to perform at the San Carlo Theater in Naples next month.
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