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‘A huge, huge mistake’: star German tenor makes emotional plea to bring back live music

German tenor Jonas Kaufmann says not being able to perform in front of a live audience for months has been hugely detrimental for musicians who thrive on connecting with real people.

'A huge, huge mistake': star German tenor makes emotional plea to bring back live music
Kaufmann performs in Vienna in summer 2020. Photo: DPA

“What we miss is this connection and it doesn't matter if they wear masks or whatever,” the 51-year-old told AFP on Thursday after performing at Madrid's Teatro Real opera house.

“I would probably feel them, sense them even if they were behind a curtain.

But they are there. This is what really matters,” added the tenor, whose last performance before an audience was in November in Denmark.

While many of the world's major venues are shut, Spain's main opera house has remained open — although with smaller audiences and safety measures such as the mandatory use of face masks — since July.

SEE ALSO: Could opera houses reopen in Germany at full capacity?

“For me, being on tour all year round, it feels like it has  been forever since I had the experience of an audience in front of me,” said Kaufmann, adding he was “extremely excited and thrilled” to perform in Madrid.

Some opera houses have staged full operas to empty theatres for television or online broadcast but Kaufmann said it was no substitute for a live audience.

“Usually there is the applause and then you relax and start smiling at you take a bow, but if there is just this eternal silence what can you do? It's embarrassing really,” he said earlier during a press conference.

“So my apologies. Audience we need you and we need you now more than ever,” he added.

“People needed distraction, people needed something to at least forget for a couple of hours all their sorrows. If you take that away and at the same time, when you take away pretty much everything else, I think it's a huge, huge mistake.”

'High rate of suicides'

Kaufmann warned that the devastating economic impact on musicians, many of whom are struggling to make ends meets as shows are cancelled, is taking a psychological toll.

 

“I know about a quite high rate of suicides in our family of musicians because they don't see any future and it is really, really terrible,” he said,

Some are “vulnerable souls” who unfortunately “don't see any other exit, which is very sad,” Kauffmann said.

Kaufmann, who the New York Times once called the “most important, versatile tenor of his generation”, said he feels “very privileged” to still be able to perform.

“There are maybe two dozen singers worldwide who are in this privileged position,” he said.

Kaufmann urged the authorities to reopen concert halls and other cultural institutions and be inventive to revive the arts.

“We are not the politicians… we are only voices and we need others to help” so that after the pandemic “we find a cultural landscape that is similar to what we have left when this whole crisis started,” he said.

“This is the first time that music is been silenced in a time of crisis,” he added.

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TRAVEL NEWS

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Britons, Americans and other non-EU/Schengen travellers who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered from Covid-19 will not be able to visit Spain for tourism for at least another month, Spanish authorities have confirmed.

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

The Spanish government has again extended temporary restrictions for non-essential travel (including tourism) from most third countries for another month, until June 15th 2022.

That means that non-EU/Schengen adults who reside outside of the EU and who haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the illness in the past six months cannot go on holiday to Spain during the next month. 

Therefore, Spain continues to not accept negative Covid-19 tests from British, American, Canadian, Indian or other third-country nationals who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered. 

There had been hopes that the shorter two-week extension to the ban on non-essential travel issued on April 30th, as well as talk of the “orderly and progressive reopening” of the country’s borders, would mean that unvaccinated third country nationals would be allowed into Spain in May.

But in the end, Saturday May 14th’s state bulletin confirmed that Spain will keep the same measures in place for another 31 days, stating that they “will eventually be modified to respond to a change of circumstances or to new recommendations in the context of the European Union”.

Spain’s ban on unvaccinated non-EU travellers is arguably the last major Covid-19 restriction in place in the country, and other EU countries such as Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic and Ireland are allowing unvaccinated tourists in.

This latest announcement by the Spanish government marks the umpteenth extension to non-essential travel from outside of the EU/Schengen area over the past two years of the pandemic, the previous one was due to expire on May 15th. 

But perhaps this extension is the most surprising, as the Spanish health ministry has modified its rulebook to treat Covid-19 like the flu and the country wants to recover the tourism numbers it had pre-pandemic.

The ban affects unvaccinated British tourists in particular, as the UK is still the biggest tourism market for Spain, but Britons’ non-EU status means they have to follow the same Covid-19 travel rules as other third-country nationals.

Vaccinated or recovered third-country travellers

Those who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 more than two weeks prior to travel to Spain will need to show a valid vaccination certificate with an EMA or WHO approved vaccine.

If their initial vaccination treatment was completed more than 9 months ago (270 days), they’ll need to show they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot. 

As for non-EU/Schengen travellers who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, they will need to show a recovery certificate to prove this

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT, and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling”, as well as being issued by the relevant authorities.

Exceptions

In early February, Spanish authorities also decided to start allowing unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen teenagers aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain for tourism if they provided a negative PCR.

Spain continues to have a small list of low-risk third countries whose travellers visiting Spain for non-essential reasons can enter without having to present proof of Covid-19 testing, recovery or vaccination. 

This is updated weekly and can be checked here by clicking on the PDF under “risk and high risk countries/areas”. 

READ ALSO: Can I travel to my second home in Spain if I’m not vaccinated?

If you’re not vaccinated or recovered, the exceptions for travel to Spain from third countries that fall under the non-essential travel restrictions are:

  • You are a resident in the EU or Schengen country.
  • You have a visa for a long duration stay in an EU or Schengen country.
  • You work in transport, such as airline staff or are in a maritime profession.
  • You work in diplomatic, consular, international organisations, military or civil protection or are a member of a humanitarian organisation.
  • You have a student visa for a country in the EU or Schengen zone.
  • You are a highly qualified worker or athlete whose work cannot be postponed or carried out remotely.
  • You are travelling for duly accredited imperative family reasons.
  • You are allowed entry due to force majeure or on humanitarian grounds.
  • And as mentioned earlier in the article, if you have a vaccination certificate that Spain’s Ministry of Health recognises, as well as for any accompanying minors (unless they’re under 12 years of age).

READ ALSO: When do I need to fill out Spain’s Covid health control form for travel?

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