With an orchestra spread out across the entire parterre, audiences limited to the balconies, and no breaks but plenty of disinfectant, the Sofia Opera is one of the few music venues still hosting live performances in Europe. Across the continent, a third wave of COVID-19 infections is keeping opera houses and other cultural venues closed — loud singing poses a particular risk as the virus spreads through droplets — but in Bulgaria, classical music plays on, from “Tosca” to “La Traviata”. “I am hungry for music. And the risk, why think about it? It’s not riskier here than in the supermarket or the subway,” says 81-year-old Petya Petkova, who attended Verdi’s “La Traviata” with her daughter last week. Despite the disinfectant, social-distancing and staff taking people’s temperature, a festive spirit reigns at the historic opera house in the Bulgarian capital, a stark contrast to its silenced counterparts in Paris, Vienna or Milan. Bulgaria first eased pandemic restrictions in June and allowed operas, concert halls and cinemas to reopen at 30 percent capacity, leading the Sofia Opera to arrange plastic and fabric flower bouquets as placeholders on the majority of the crimson plush seats. “We perform in front of 250 spectators,… Read full this story
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