LONDON (Reuters) – Wrapped up in coats and with London’s famed landmarks behind them, members of the Royal Opera Chorus sing the Anvil Chorus from Giuseppe Verdi’s 1853 opera “Il Trovatore” in their first reunion in a year.
Standing apart due to social distancing measures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25 singers are gathered on the rooftop of the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden.
Their performance, which also includes the final chorus from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”, will be streamed on the Royal Opera House’s Facebook page on Good Friday as the venue prepares to welcome back audiences in May.
“It’s about greeting Easter time and greeting the world after lockdown,” American conductor William Spaulding, who is the chorus director of the Royal Opera House, told Reuters.
“We all need a bit of hope right now … it’s been such a rough year and in particular for opera,” added director of opera Oliver Mears.
Like other cultural venues across Britain, the Royal Opera House, also home to the Royal Ballet, shut its doors in March 2020, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Britons to stay home to stop the spread of the virus.
Now, as the country slowly emerges from lockdown, the venue last week announced early plans for its 2021/22 Season, its first full season since 2019.
It will first welcome back audiences from May 17, with performances including a new Royal Opera production of Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito”.
While some members of the chorus, which was originally founded in 1946, performed in a Christmas concert in December, most have not sung together for a while.
Soprano Elizabeth Weisberg, who like fellow chorus members was furloughed during lockdown, said she felt she had lost a “big family feeling” by being away from her colleagues.
“I’m looking forward to the day when we can hug each other again,” she told Reuters.
“We really do look after each other and (I’m) just looking forward to seeing … the standing ovations when the audiences are back. I know they need it just as much as we do, and it’s just going to mean so much more to everybody once we are back and able to make music.”
(Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Additional reporting and writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Alex Richardson)