An opera at Madrid's famous Teatro Real is suspended mid-performance

Moment an opera at Madrid’s famous Teatro Real is suspended mid-performance as theatre-goers in the ‘cheap seats’ begin a loud protest at being forced to sit close together – despite the city’s rising Covid rate

  • Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Un ballo in maschera’ was being performed at the Teatro Real
  • The performance in Madrid was cancelled after it had already started 
  • Spectators seated in upper tiers complained social distancing wasn’t respected
  • The crowd started to ‘slow handclap’ and called for performance to be stopped  

An opera performance in Madrid has been cancelled after it had already started, when the reduced crowd protested that they had been seated in close proximity to one another and social distancing was not being respected.

Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Un ballo in maschera’ was being performed at the Teatro Real in the Spanish capital Madrid when spectators seated in the upper tiers complained that they had been placed without social distancing being respected.

Video footage shows the crowd ‘slow handclapping’ and calling for ‘suspension’ and ‘security’ until the performance was eventually cancelled.

Performers started the opera’s first act twice before it was finally halted.

An opera performance in Madrid has been cancelled after it had already started, when the reduced crowd protested that they had been seated in close proximity to one another and social distancing was not being respected

Video footage shows the crowd ‘slow handclapping’ and calling for ‘suspension’ and ‘security’ until the performance was eventually cancelled

Audience members on the upper tiers claimed that there were up to 15 people with no separated seats between them

It comes as Madrid today called in the army as parts of the city went into lockdown, and Spain faces a second wave of coronavirus. 

Audience members on the upper tiers claimed that there were up to 15 people with no separated seats between them. 

The famous theatre has hit back at claims that they did not put sufficient measures in place. 

A spokesperson for Teatro Teal defended the venue’s seating arrangement, explaining that they were only 51.5 percent full when the maximum allowed capacity is 75 percent. 

According to a report in local paper 20 Minutos, a spokesperson said that ‘905 seats were occupied representing a 51.5 percent room capacity’.

The theatre added: ‘A group of spectators hand clapped and shouted their disapproval at the seating arrangement.’

Teatro Real also said that the spectators were offered the opportunity to switch seats or accept a refund before the opera got underway.

The famous theatre has hit back at claims that they did not put sufficient measures in place

According to a report in local paper 20 Minutos, a spokesperson said that ‘905 seats were occupied representing a 51.5 percent room capacity’

Teatro Real also said that the spectators were offered the opportunity to switch seats or accept a refund before the opera got underway

After moving some audience members and two failed attempts to start the opera, the theatre concluded that the protesters appeared to want ‘the show boycotted’ and it was promptly cancelled.

The theatre has opened an internal investigation into the incident.

Giuseppe Verdi’s three-act classic kicked off the theatre’s opera season in front of King Felipe and Queen Letizia on Friday.

Spanish hospitals have admitted 10,800 people in four weeks – more than in the previous three months combined. 

Older people remain the most vulnerable, with over-60s accounting for a majority of recent admissions. 

In Spain, at least 10,800 people have been admitted to hospital since August 20, compared to 7,000 in the previous three months combined. 

Spain’s death toll has edged up in recent weeks with more than 100 new fatalities on some days, but the levels are still well below those in March and April 

SPAIN CASES: A rebound in infections and an increased testing programme have led to a huge rise in confirmed cases in Spain, reaching higher levels than in the spring 

However, at the height of the crisis in the spring there were up to 23,000 people being admitted every week, with hundreds dying every day.

In early April, Covid patients were filling up 100 per cent of Madrid’s hospital beds, with temporary facilities set up in corridors, libraries and gyms outside the main wards. 

Now, only 22 per cent of the capital’s hospital beds are occupied by coronavirus patients – although the number has nearly doubled from 10 per cent a month ago. 

In Spain as a whole, the situation is somewhat better with 8.7 per cent of beds now taken by Covid patients, compared to 4.4 per cent in mid-August. 

The story is similar in intensive care units, with 875 people admitted across Spain in the last month compared to 477 between May and August. 

But the numbers are still significantly lower than the 1,520 people who were in intensive care on the worst day of the crisis on April 5.  

Hospitals in Madrid are treating nearly 400 people in intensive care units, filling more than 40 per cent of Madrid’s ICU beds.  

‘In a way, it’s like the situation in March but in slow motion,’ said Dr Carlos Velayos, an ICU doctor at a hospital in a Madrid suburb. 

Velayos said that prediction models were telling hospital administrators in Madrid that some ICU wards could reach peak capacity before the end of September.  

‘In March, it was like a nuclear bomb that brought the health system as a whole to a collapse in a matter of weeks,’ Velayos said. 

‘We might not be there yet, but that’s not a reason not to be worried. We have allowed the outbreaks to reach a level of being uncontrollable.’

The regional chief of Madrid today requested help from the Spanish military to fight the surge in the capital. 

‘We need help from the army for disinfection… and to strengthen local police and law enforcement,’ Isabel Diaz Ayuso told a news conference.  

Madrid’s R rate is thought to be about 1.08, compared to 0.97 for Spain as a whole, and the region is piling up thousands of cases per day by itself. 

A partial lockdown is beginning in some of Madrid’s poorer districts this week, affecting around 850,000 people. 

Access to parks and public areas will be restricted, gatherings will be limited to six people and commercial establishments will have to close by 10pm. 

Spain’s death rate is currently the worst in Western Europe, prompting fears that the UK’s could also increase if there is a similar rise in cases 

Britain’s own rebound in cases has sparked fears that the UK is heading in a similar direction to Spain, with ministers being warned that Britain may be around six weeks behind 

The new measures sparked an outbreak of protests on Sunday, with people holding signs saying ‘no to a class-based lockdown’. 

‘We think that they are laughing at us a little bit,’ said nurse Bethania Perez, as hundreds protested against the measure. 

Spain imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns in the spring and the economy is expected to contract by around 10 to 12 per cent this year.  

Velayos’s hospital is expanding its ICU capacity from 12 to 24 beds by the end of September, because all of them are currently filling up with coronavirus patients. 

Operating rooms have been turned into ICUs and surgeries have been postponed, while hospitals compete to hire medics exhausted by the first wave of the crisis. 

Regional authorities say that the health system still has room to manage the incoming flow of patients and that medical workers are better prepared. 

The Madrid government is spending €50million to build a massive new ‘epidemics hospital’ with more than 1,000 beds by the end of October. 

Meanwhile, health officials in Zaragoza have started putting up field hospitals in a grim echo of the worst days of the pandemic. 

Spain has also seen its death rate rise somewhat, although again the figures are still far lower than in the spring. 

SPAIN AGE GROUPS: More than a quarter of recent hospital admissions in Spain are people over 80, with over-60s accounting for more than half the total 

The death toll rose by 748 last week, compared to 329 in the previous week and 407 in the seven days before that. 

The country saw its worst week of deaths in late March and early April when 6,077 people died in the space of seven days.  

Older people are continuing to prove the most vulnerable in Spain: patients aged 80 or above account for more than a quarter of the recent hospital admissions. 

More than 6,000 over-60s have been admitted to hospital with coronavirus since August 20, compared to only 1,500 people aged under 40.   

A majority of people admitted to ICU in the last month are in their 50s or 60s, with another 23 per cent in their 70s. 

The proportion of ICU patients under 40 has fallen from 17 per cent between May and August to eight per cent in the last month.  

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