I was sitting high up in the gallery of an auditorium, looking down over row upon row of empty seats (1069 of them, to be precise). It felt like being inside a stock image — the ones used to illustrate articles about Covid-era theatre closures.

But this was not a dead theatre. The curtain went up. There was a spotlight on a piano. A pianist struck the opening chords of Ti Desta, Luisa Regina De’Cori from Verdi’s opera Luisa Miller. Soon a chorus of voices filled the air...

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