Barcelona’s opera house has celebrated its reopening to the public since the coronavirus pandemic put the world at a standstill, but their opening night had an unusual audience. For its first concert, the theater forwent the usual crowd of people and instead packed the house with plants. Yes, that’s correct. All 2,292 seats at the Gran Teatre Liceu were occupied by leafy green plants.
The idea was conceived by conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia and was broadcast live on the theater’s website. These lucky ficus trees, palms, and Swiss cheese plants—which were brought in by local nurseries—got the pleasure of hearing Puccini’s Crisantemi performed by the UceLi Quartet string quartet.
Ampudia hopes that the work will inspire people to think more deeply about their relationship with nature and the concept of sustainability. “We are at the end of an era and that means that we have to change certain paradigms,” he shares. “We don’t live in the same world as 90 days ago, and this means we have to reflect on everything that we do.”
As plants can respond to different vibrations caused by music, they certainly weren’t a passive audience—even if they weren’t able to give applause. Now that the concert is over, each plant will be given to a different frontline healthcare worker who helped guide the country through its battle with the coronavirus.
The moving concert is a continuation of the Liceu’s mission to create a dialogue between music and the visual arts. Pictures and a video of the performance taken by Ampudia will now become part of La Caixa contemporary art collection.