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Coronavirus consolation as open-air opera lifts spirits in Naples

The summer nights in Naples are about to be filled with the mesmerising music of Verdi and Puccini.

Musicians from the San Carlo Theatre are performing a series of outdoor arias in the city's main square to honour the health workers who fought on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of taking to the stage of the San Carlo Opera Theatre, they’re gathering on the adjacent Plebiscito Square – to play for the whole city.

After months of coronavirus crisis and lockdown measures that shut down the city’s main opera house, many say the socially distanced event is most welcome.

“We’re going back to life, back to normality, despite the current difficulties,” said primary care physician Federico Cisone, who was among the health workers invited to attend the rehearsal of Verdi’s Aida on Saturday (July 25).

The San Carlo Theatre of Naples is the oldest continuously active venue for opera in the world, having opened in 1737, decades before either Milan’s La Scala or Venice’s La Fenice.

It plays a central role in the identity of the city of Naples. Now in these troubled times, it’s opening to the city to bring a message of hope to its residents.

“It’s like saying: we start again – Napoli, the city starts again. The San Carlo Theatre is helping this restart,” said the theatre’s director Stephane Lissner.

“It’s a renaissance for everybody. You will see people around here gathering to listen to the music; they come here for the rehearsals too,” he said.

“When we start, people will lean out over the balconies listening to the music… It’s nice.”

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