La Scala delays ballet season opener due to virus outbreak

Health Minute

Italian Carabinieri police patrol outside La Scala opera house for the premiere of Verdi’s Macbeth in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. The Macbeth opens the 2021/2021 lyric season of one of the most storied opera house in the world. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

ROME (AP) — Italy’s La Scala has postponed its ballet season premiere after a coronavirus outbreak in its ranks, just days after the famed Milan theater staged its high-profile opera season opener with a full-capacity audience.

At least one of the four ballerinas who tested positive for COVID-19 also appeared in the Dec. 7 premiere of the opera “Macbeth.”

Ten other people linked to the outbreak tested positive for the virus, all of them theater support personnel, including someone who worked in the hairdressing department, the theater said in a statement.

Italian health authorities placed a number of other people in quarantine because they were in close contact with those confirmed infected, La Scala said.

La Scala Theatre Ballet was scheduled to perform “La Bayadere” to open its season on Dec. 15. The performance has been pushed back until Dec. 21.

The 19th century ballet is based on a score by Ludwig Minkus and choreography that Rudolf Nureyev debuted with the Paris Opera ballet in 1992. La Scala’s performance of the ballet marks the first time the Nureyev Foundation has allowed another company to perform it.

The opening of La Scala’s opera season is considered a highlight of Italy’s cultural calendar and took on added glitter this year after the 2020 edition was televised due to the pandemic.

While the Dec. 7 performance officially launched La Scala’s opera season, the theater staged pre-season operas, ballets and other events for several months, one of the few European houses to resume regular, full-capacity performances.

Italy, like other countries in Europe, is seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases as cold weather sets in. The country reported 20,000 new cases Friday.

However, the latest wave so far is more contained in Italy than in other European nations, and the country’s daily death toll has generally stayed below 100 for months.

Officials credit 85% of Italy’s population over age 12 being fully vaccinated, as well as continued mask mandates and health pass requirements to access workplaces, restaurants, museums and theaters.

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