The COVID-19 pandemic has really put a crimp in many 2020 plans. We’ve all had to experience birthdays in quarantine, coffee dates over Zoom, endless streams of arts and crafts supplies being delivered to our doors, and many strange versions of what “normal” is. In the meantime, many establishments like museums, schools, zoos, movie theaters, etc., have all had to close down in order to comply with the social distancing and lockdown orders of many countries.
After months of very quiet cities and towns around the world, places are finally beginning to open back up. Barcelona’s opera house celebrated their return to the public scene since lockdown, however, their audience wasn’t who you’d expect. Rather than packing the house with people on their opening night concert, the opera house was full of plants. The Gran Teatre Liceu has a total of 2,292 seats – and every single one was packed full of plants!
Conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia was the one who came up with the idea to use plants and then broadcast it live on the theatre’s website. The plants used in the concert were ficus trees, palms, and Swiss cheese plants – all varieties coming from local nurseries. These plants had the privilege of listening to Puccini’s Crisantemi, which was performed by the UceLi Quartet string quartet.
The reason behind Ampudia’s idea was the hope that people will be inspired to reflect on their relationship with the environment as well as preservation and sustainability. As Ampudia explained, “We are at the end of an era and that means that we have to change certain paradigms. We don’t live in the same world as 90 days ago, and this means we have to reflect on everything that we do.”
While the audience might have been plants, that doesn’t mean that they were a passive audience. Plants are known to respond to musical vibrations. After the concert, all 2,292 plants were rehomed to frontline healthcare workers throughout the country, as a thank you for all they’ve been doing to combat the pandemic.
The concert was a continuation of the opera house’s dedication to starting a conversation about the correlation between music and the visual arts. Ampudia took plenty of pictures and video footage throughout the plant concert, and all of these will be added to a La Caixa contemporary art collection.
Check out the video below:
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.