(Reuters) - New York’s famed Metropolitan Opera canceled its entire upcoming season on Wednesday and said it would remain closed until September 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a sign of the continuing struggles for live entertainment.
The 3,800-seat opera house normally stages more than 200 performances each season and welcomes nearly 800,000 visitors, according to its website.
“We regret to inform you that the Metropolitan Opera has made the extremely difficult decision to cancel the entirety of the 2020–21 season, based on the advice of health officials who advise the Met and Lincoln Center,” where the opera is based, the organization said in a statement.
The novel coronavirus poses unique challenges for live entertainment venues. Operators of the Met decided they could not resume performances while the virus posed a risk.
“Because of the many hundreds of performers who are required to rehearse and perform in close quarters and because of the company’s large audience, it was determined that it would not be safe for the Met to resume until a vaccine is widely in use, herd immunity is established, and the wearing of masks and social distancing is no longer a medical requirement,” the Met’s statement said.
The Met said it had ambitious plans for a new season beginning in September 2021 with the premiere of Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut up in my Bones,” the first opera by a Black composer to be performed at the Met.
Operators of Broadway theaters, among the biggest tourist attractions in New York, currently aim to reopen in January 2021.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; editing by Jonathan Oatis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.