Metropolitan Opera Performance of ‘Tannhäuser’ Interrupted by Climate Protesters

By Francisco Salazar

The Metropolitan Opera’s opening night performance of “Tannhäuser” on Nov. 30 was interrupted by the climate protest group Extinction Rebellion.

During the middle of Wolfram’s Act two aria, climate protesters shouted “No Opera on a dead planet” and held two banners on both sides of the theater with the same phrase. According to a the group, the opera was interrupted “to coincide with the main character’s declaration that ‘love is a spring to be drunk from,’ and highlighted the fact that, contrary to those words spoken on stage, springs are not pure now, because we are in a climate crisis, and our water is contaminated.”

Chaos ensued and the curtain was brought down stopping the show.

Following the incident General Manager Peter Gelb walked on stage to reassure audiences that the show would go on. However, as the show was set to begin, the protests restarted. The performance eventually went on with the lights on halfway.

According to the climate group, “the actions highlights government and corporate neglect of climate and ecological breakdown. Extinction Rebellion emphasizes that the present socioeconomic system can’t protect people from the crises to come, because that system’s very structure creates these crises–and then ignores them. Our key institutions, corporations, and governments, function according to quarterly profits and the election cycle, respectively, without regard for the long-term dangers to our survival.” They noted that “If protestors don’t disrupt the opera, nature most certainly will—and soon.”

This is the latest climate protest at a classical music concert. Previously the Teatro alla Scala and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam were hit with protests that interrupted the show.