A group of concert and opera singers, conductors, instrumental soloists and musicians from leading symphony and opera orchestras had planned to file an application to the Bavarian Administrative Court on December 7, in order to have the complete closure of concert halls and opera houses ordered to combat the COVID-19 pandemic legally reviewed. Following the proclamation of a state of emergency in Bavaria on Sunday, the artists put their request temporarily on hold.
The planned legal steps will be reassessed in light of the current situation, a press release says.
The 25 applicants include the singers Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke, Kevin Conners, Christian Gerhaher, Christiane Karg and Elisabeth Kulman as well as the conductors Antonello Manacorda and Hansjörg Albrecht. The applicants agree that they would all have performed in the next few weeks (until December 20, 2020) at the Bavarian State Opera, the Philharmonie am Gasteig or the Prinzregententheater. A very large group of other artists has joined the planned application as supporters.
The news release says that the « applicants do not intend to deny the necessity of an effective protection against infection or to play down the danger posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they express their compassion for the seriously ill with the COVID-19 virus and the relatives of the deceased. They expressly advocate compulsory masks, necessary hygiene measures or testing to protect performers and the public. It is the concern of the applicants to obtain an appropriate consideration of their interests, above all in accordance with the fundamental right to artistic freedom. From the point of view of the applicants, a complete, long-term closure of all cultural institutions – despite the existence of scientific studies and differentiated hygiene concepts – will not provide an adequate response to the corona dangers and will not sufficiently take into account the basic rights of artists. For unlike the holding of church services and assemblies, the holding of concerts and cultural events is completely prohibited, although the fundamental rights of freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and artistic freedom are all unconditionally guaranteed, i.e. they may only be restricted by conflicting constitutional law. »
The applicants state, among other things, that for the Munich venues for which they have engagements (Bavarian State Opera, Philharmonie am Gasteig and Prinzregententheater), sophisticated and tested hygiene and protection concepts are in place that virtually rule out virus transmission in the audience area.