Fifty Opera Houses and Orchestras in France Express Grave Concerns Over Poor Attendance

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: Opéra de Dijon official website)

The directors and general managers of 50 opera houses, theaters and orchestras in France have expressed grave concerns over poor attendance since the reopening in September 2021.

For the past few weeks, orchestras and operas have been buzzing with rediscovered, renewed and revived joy. However, after only one month of reopening, a study by the Harris Institute on behalf of the Ministry of Culture carried out at the end of October 2021 confirmed fears that theaters in France are experiencing poor attendance as many visitors are still hesitant to return.

“We cannot ignore what COVID-19 and its repeated confinements could have produced, these parallel lives locking everyone up in their own corridor, narrowing our imaginations, drying up our thirst for discovery. Finding the taste of others is not easy. At a time when we hasten to make up for time with our loved ones, the return to the places of creation may come secondary,” said the group of companies in an open letter.

A similar assessment came from German publicist and journalist Axel Brüggemann. German opera houses and concert halls have also seen underwhelming attendance in the past few months, leading to many open questions and renewed concerns. The cancellation of the opening night of Puccini’s “Tosca” at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant seems to have added to those concerns. Allegedly the performance in London was canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the technical staff of the opera company.

The open letter has been signed by directors and general managers of the Angers-Nantes Opéra, Opéra Comique, Opéra de Lille, Opéra de Dijon, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, Opéra de Rouen Normandie, Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier Occitanie, Opéra national du Rhin, Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, and Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, among others.