Madrid's COVID-hit 'La Boheme' replaces both casts in less than 24 hours

The famed opera house was forced to make an incredible U-turn as its performers tested positive
The famed opera house was forced to make an incredible U-turn as its performers tested positive Copyright Reuters
By Shannon McDonagh with Reuters
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The opera encountered staggering complications when members of both cast rotations tested positive, forcing them to get creative.


Madrid's Teatro Real opera house had to act fast on January 3 when the both casts of its production of 'La Boheme' caught COVID-19 one after another.

The opera's director was forced to scramble for replacements who could perform together as seamlessly as possible for the first time on Monday night.

To mitigate the risk of contamination, Teatro Real productions operate with two full casts, which alternate performances and never come into contact with one another.

But with Spain reporting record infection numbers, an outbreak swept across both crews, infecting four of the leading roles and their understudies by Sunday night and forcing the cancellation of that night's performance, a spokesperson explained.

How did the new cast manage to do it?

Artistic director Joan Matabosch sprang into action to bring in last-minute substitutes to cover the parts of Rodolfo, Schaunard, Mimi and Marcello in Giacomo Puccini's depiction of infidelity and jealousy among young artists in 1840s Paris.

A video emerged from the theatre's Instagram account to assure ticketholders that rehearsals were well underway.

Those involved in the production described how the performers had never performed together before, spending every minute they could together rehearsing.

"They've been at home studying videos of previous shows," a spokeswoman said.

The original performers may not be out of bounds for long

Madrid's Teatro Real hosts nearly 2,000 people in each of its performancesAFP

"The Teatro Real does not want to disappoint the public...we have to live with this pandemic," she continued.

The new team's time in the spotlight could be limited as several of the original singers may be clear to perform if they test negative on January 4.

If so, they'll be able to make it to the stage in time for La Boheme's final performance at the theatre.

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