A major uptick in coronavirus cases in Spain has renewed all sorts of tensions — even within the capital’s royal opera house.
On Sunday, a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” at the Teatro Real was cancelled after spectators spent more than an hour shouting and clapping to protest against what they said were insufficient social distancing measures in the opera house’s mezzanine levels. Photos and videos shared on social media showed filled rows in the upper sections of the house, in contrast to the orchestra level of the auditorium, where spectators were separated by vacant seats.
Julio Bravo, a journalist who covers opera for the Spanish newspaper ABC, said he had “never seen anything quite like this in my 35 years in this job.”
Bravo said the protests had been kicked off by spectators in the mezzanine, who started to clap and shout for the performance to be called off because of crowding.
“We all know that Spaniards are hotblooded, and it is clear that we are now in a situation that helps foment protests and complaints,” Bravo said by phone.
The Teatro Real said in a statement Monday it had adhered to the latest rules set by Madrid’s regional government, which restrict performing arts venues to 75 per cent of their capacity, and had gone even further by limiting ticket sales to 65 per cent. The new rules do not stipulate that vacant seats must be left between spectators, as long as they wear masks.
The Teatro Real said in a statement Sunday night that it had complied with government safety measures. It said only 905 of the house’s seats had been sold, equivalent to 51.5% of its capacity. It had offered unhappy spectators the opportunity to move to other seats, the statement added, or get a reimbursement for their tickets, but instead “a very reduced” number of spectators had ensured the opera could not continue.
The New York Times
‘Guess How Much I Love You’ author dies
Sam McBratney, the Irish children’s author whose picture story of ever-wider and higher devotion “Guess How I Much Love You” became bedtime reading for millions of families, has died.
Candlewick Press announced that McBratney died Friday at age 77. Additional details were not immediately available. His death comes less than two weeks before the publication of “Will You Be My Friend?”, a companion to his 1994 classic, which has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 57 languages.
“Sam McBratney was a profoundly lovely human being,” Karen Lotz, group managing director of Candlewick’s parent company Walker Books Group, said in a statement Monday. “You could recognize his voice in a moment — he was an exceptionally talented wordsmith and always knew exactly what children would enjoy hearing the most. Amazingly humble, he also was a hilarious storyteller and convivial companion.”
McBratney would call his famous book “a lighthearted little story designed to help a big one and a wee one enjoy the pleasure of being together.” With illustrations by Anita Jeram, “Guess How Much I Love You” tells of older and younger nutbrown hares — presumed to be father and son — and their game of one-upmanship as each declares his feelings for the other, with the title a question repeated throughout.
McBratney is survived by his wife of 56 years, Marilyn; three children and six grandchildren
A native of Belfast and a graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, McBratney was a history teacher who wrote more than 50 books even though he didn’t become a full-time writer until middle age, when he retired from teaching. His other works include the historical novel “The Chieftain’s Daughter,” “The Lough Neah Monster” and “School Trip to the Stars.”
The Associated Press