At Barcelona opera house, 2,292 house plants enjoy a stirring concert

A string quartet played Puccini for a very rapt and very leafy audience.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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A string quartet performs for thousands of house plants at the Liceu opera house in Barcelona on June 22, 2020.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Barcelona's Liceu opera house has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Spain just lifted its three-month lockdown, but the Liceu wasn't quite ready to fill its seats with people. Instead, it welcomed a full house of 2,292 plants for a string quartet performance of Puccini's Crisantemi.

The Gran Teatre del Liceu released a video of the UceLi String Quartet on Tuesday, complete with sweeping views of the quiet and attentive audience. 

The performance was called "Concert for the biocene," a reference to the concept of biocenosis, an interconnected community of life.

Artist Eugenio Ampudia was the mastermind behind the concert. Ampudia's playful and thought-provoking works have included stones on wheels and an undulating patch of grass. Ampudia will be turning the concert into a video art piece.

"Crisantemi" means "chrysanthemums." The elegy offered a fitting mood to match what Ampudia hoped to achieve, what the Liceau called "a different perspective for our return to activity, a perspective that brings us closer to something as essential as our relationship with nature."

The video starts with a standard request in Spanish and English to switch off mobile phones and to refrain from taking photos or making noise. The plants, which came from local nurseries, had no issue with complying. 

The lucky house plants all received new homes as donations to the healthcare professionals at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona. The hospital tweeted photos on Tuesday of the mass plant adoption event. 

The video is both beautiful and strange. It's worth watching through to the very end so you can discover what a round of house plant applause sounds like. 

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