The best part is, each one of these plants will be donated to a health care worker after the exclusive performance.
As an intriguing statement on the relationship between man and nature, a Spanish opera hall will conduct a performance of Puccini’s flowery concerto Chrisantemi—or Chrysanthemums in English—to a packed house of 2,292 potted plants. That’s right, no humans allowed for the grand re-opening performance.
Instead, the seats at the Gran Teatro del Liceu will be reserved for the leaves, shoots and roots of an all-plant audience, or a “vegetable kingdom”, as artistic director Víctor García de Gomar coins it.
As government-mandated shelter-in-place and quarantine orders saw society recede into the walls of their homes, nature has silently crept into many of the places—in the cities and in the margins—which we vacated
Pondering on this, the concert organizers at Barcelona’s Liceu opera house decided that as the country begins to reopen and the people reclaim the spaces they lost, it should be plants that receive the honor of the first performance within the grand Catalan concert hall.
“At a time when an important part of humankind has shut itself up in enclosed spaces and been obliged to relinquish movement, nature has crept forward to occupy the spaces we have ceded,” said Eugenio Ampudia, a conceptual artist, and one of the brains behind the strange idea.
“And it has done so at its own rhythm, according to its patient biological cycle. Can we broaden our empathy and bring it to bear on other species? Let’s start by using art and music and inviting nature into a great concert hall.”
When the string quartet of two violins, a viola and cello finish their performance, palms will certainly be pressed together in appreciation, after which each and every plant will be donated to a health worker as a small token of appreciation.
Why Puccini? Well, Puccini is often remembered for his glorious melodies, which perfectly capture his characters’ emotional states. He took the tradition of Italian opera in the direction of Wagner with his sense of orchestration and dramatic flow, while retaining the Italianate penchant for melody. His duets and arias in particular remain popular both in the operas, films and in concert programmes.
He wrote very few instrumental works, and among them there are 4 works for string quartet; 3 minuets and the elegy Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums).
Puccini’s mastery of writing for strings is evident in this short work that lasts about 6 minutes. The work consists of two themes, the first is repeated at the end while the second one is in the middle section. It is a work of concentrated dark mood as the 4 instruments pay tribute to Puccini’s friend, he Duke of Savoy, formerly King Amadeo I Of Spain. Puccini thought much of the two melodies used in the work as he reused them in the last act of his opera Manon Lescaut three years later in 1893.
If you’d like to watch the concerto for yourself, you can enjoy the live stream below which will be active at 5pm Monday evening.