Barcelona Opera House Reopens with Concert for Over 2,000 Houseplants

The UceLi string quartet performs Puccini's "Crisantemi", which means chrysanthemums

Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu
Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, photo via Getty

There’s lots of talk in opera these days about organically growing the audience, and now Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu has found a new and (literally) fresh approach. As CNN reports, the Spanish opera house reopened after months of coronavirus lockdowns with a performance for 2,292 houseplants.

Conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia created the event, featuring music provided by UceLi string quartet. The ensemble played the Puccini elegy, “Crisantemi”, which translates to “chrysanthemums”, a fitting piece for the unique crowd in attendance Monday evening. Hailing from nearby nurseries, the “audience” of plants — verdant trees, ferns, and grasses — carpeted the orchestra section as well as the balconies above.

At the conclusion of “Crisantemi”, the gorgeous flora was made to applaud. Through a combination of hard-blowing fans and unseen mechanical manipulations, the assembly shivered its leaves and bowed its branches, as audio played of clattering sticks and rustling leaves. Afterwards, each of the 2,292 plants was donated to a frontline worker at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

In a statement, the opera house said that it “welcomes and leads a highly symbolic act that defends the value of art, music and nature as a letter of introduction to our return to activity.”

The Gran Teatre del Liceu is a building of overwhelming beauty, and surely the audience has never looked better. Watch the full “Crisantemi” performance below.

After starting with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, Spain ended its national state of emergency yesterday. It’s a far cry from the United States, where cases are rising faster than testing is expanded, and where Trump voters are burning their face masks to protest COVID-19 orders. Spain has also outpaced America in preserving its artistic spaces, such as the Gran Teatre del Liceu. Here, 90% of independent music venues face closure if the coronavirus crisis continues, which is why over 600 artists have signed a letter asking Congress to support independent venues.