The Times - Summer opera in 2021

Summer opera in 2021 . . . what the organisers are plotting

15 February 2021

The Times

The real key to whether festivals will happen or not lies in the speed of the vaccinations programme. Demanding vaccination passports at the gate, however, opens up an ethical nightmare. If ten friends turn up with tickets they bought months earlier and one of them couldn’t get a vaccination in time, do they have to go home?

“I am not entitled to demand vaccine passports at the gate,” Giddings says. “We have to get permission from Public Health England to put the show on and then we do our best to do it within how they tell us to. Coronavirus won’t go away, but it comes to the point where it is a minor problem and having the vaccine out there is the only way you can make it work. It is the question of when that day comes.”

At Grange Park Opera the chief executive, Wasfi Kani, says that no patrons will be allocated seats until two weeks before their event. Their vaccination status will be taken into account when the seating plan is organised. “Four weeks before, I want to ask every ticket buyer whether they have been vaccinated and whether the people in their party have.” They will be invited to say if they have had jabs or if they prefer not to say, but is it safer to sprinkle the vaccinated among the others or to keep them together? “I will probably try to organise all the vaccinated people in one area — they will feel more confident.”

Kani is congratulating herself on the facilities she had built for Grange Park Opera in 2018, aka the “Lavatorium Rotundum”. “We happen to have built the perfect lavatory for Covid — it’s very spacious and it’s got two doors, with an in-built one-way system.”