- 25 Mar 21
The limited runs at select German venues is part of an official test to see whether venues can put on safe performances - despite new cases soaring.
One of Europe's most renowned capitals of culture, Berlin, has reopened its doors in numerous theatres for patrons who bring a COVID-negative test. The city's venues have all been dark since November, laid waste by the ongoing pandemic.
A new test is being held at two of the city’s opera houses, the Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, and at the Volksbühne theatre. Live performances are going ahead, with two nights at the Berliner Ensemble beginning on March 19th ploughing ahead.
German nightclub Holzmarkt will also host a sit-down concert with 80 patrons. The short run of shows will determine whether cultural events can be put on safely, even as infection numbers soar.
Customers get a free COVID test with each €20 ticket bought online, but the test must be carried out on the day of the performance. Only those with a negative result are allowed into the theatre, and face masks must be worn throughout the performance.
Daniel Barenboim is set to conduct The Marriage of Figaro at the Staatsoper on April 2, while the Deutsche Oper will stage Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini two days later. The Volksbühne will put on a premiere of Fritz Kater’s new play Come As You Are, and Dutch electronic musician Fatima Yamaha will perform at the Holzmarkt club.
The move is an attempt “to run through how we can allow a controlled, hygienic return to cultural life”, said Klaus Lederer, Berlin’s minister for culture.
Despite an extension announced on Monday to German restrictions in place since October, Torsten Wöhlert, the city official in charge of the Berlin project, said he was determined to keep it running.
“The pilot is designed to be safe even when infection rates are high,” he said.
The series of events for the project have not been canceled as of yet, but the progressive easing of restrictions planned at the start of March is being reconsidered.
The plan included allowing theatres to reopen if the case rates remained under 50 new infections per 100,000 residents per week for 14 days in a row. Germany's infections are rising at an exponential rate and the country seems to be firmly in the grip of the third wave of the pandemic.
As of yet, Ireland has no plans to open up its live performance venues, but an announcement on lockdown restrictions is due to be made next week by An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin.
Despite a new wave of infections in Germany, the Berliner Ensemble is open for just two nights. Besides one of the precious few tickets (they were sold out in 5 mins), the audience had to show a negative corona test at the door. pic.twitter.com/DJwhUSrBN4
— Christopher Schuetze (@CFSchuetze) March 19, 2021
Photo credit: Moritz Haase.