Staatsoper Berlin’s COVID-19 Testing Policy Questioned by Tenor Cyrille Dubois

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: Staatsoper Unter den Linden / Marcus Ebener)

French tenor Cyrille Dubois has canceled his performance in a Concert Astrée at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden on Nov. 8, 2021.

Dubois took to Facebook with the following statement: “Given the implementation of a disproportionate testing policy at the Berlin Staatsoper (2 PCR tests for 3 days in addition to the full vaccination requirement), I regret to cancel my participation at the 20 years anniversary concert of the Astrée in Berlin. I was delighted to make my debut in Berlin, but we cannot continue to support unilateral measures by certain houses which go beyond the general framework prescribed by scientific authorities,” said Dubois.

“As a reminder, an artist who tests positive for the virus or gets sick doesn’t get paid. Let’s not relive another winter of psychosis,” added Dubois.

The French tenor also shared an opinion by the ENT specialist Dr. Lionel Lejeune from the CHU de Liège regarding the frequent nasal swabs for the detection of SARS-CoV-2: “There is no risk for the vocal cords, nor for the larynx in general. On the other hand, one can injure the nasopharynx and the nose, by taking swabs for PCR or antigenic tests. This can cause epistaxis (nosebleeds), nasal congestion or injuries of the nasopharynx, with difficulty to mobilize the soft palate. These difficulties are usually mild and temporary. On the other hand, repeating the tests is painful and worsens the symptoms, which can cause discomfort in the practice of singing.”

Germany’s biggest opera house, the Bayerische Staatsoper, was forced to cancel its performances until at least Nov. 12, 2021, due to the COVID-19 outbreak at the house. The opera house is known for its rigorous testing policies in order to protect the artists and production teams. The Bayerische Staatsoper experienced quite the contrary requirement from the performers of Aribert Reimann’s “Lear” in April 2021, where the production team explicitly required the expansion of RT-PCR testing to ensure better protection during rehearsals and performances.

Berlin’s largest opera house, the Deutsche Oper Berlin employed daily testing for few of its productions that required extensive and close contacts onstage.

It is true that artists who test positive for the virus or get sick do not get paid for the canceled performances. However, one must have in mind the dangers of silent Covid infections where the virus gets transmitted – and the vulnerable ones might be in a greater danger of contracting it. It seems that the production team of “Lear” at the Bayerische Staatsoper had that higher cause in mind in April 2021.