Reopening the Bavarian State Opera Safely: Hygiene Strategies and Incidence of COVID-19 in Artistic Staff During Theater Season 2020/2021

Simone Graf, Luca Engelmann, Olivia Jeleff Wölfler, Inka Albrecht, Matthias Schloderer, Anna Kramer, Lucia Klankermayer, Friedemann Gebhardt, Adam M. Chaker, Christoph D. Spinner, Roland Schwab, Barbara Wollenberg, Ulrike Protzer, Dieter Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Due to the drastically rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) incidence since March 2020, social life was shut down across the globe, and most opera houses were closed. As a result, there are limited data on SARS-CoV-2 infections among artists. The Bavarian State Opera has been reopened in September 2020. This study aimed to identify the incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among employees in the Bavarian State Opera. In addition, the various hygiene strategies for the work groups within the institution are described. During the study period from September 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021, 10,061 nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from 1,460 artistic staff members in a rolling system. During the entire study period, 61 individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. None of the patients had a severe disease course. Compared to the seven-day-incidence per 100,000 German inhabitants, the estimated corresponding incidence among employees was lower at 37 weeks and higher or equal at 9 weeks. Among the infected individuals, 58.3% were symptomatic, 23.3% were presymptomatic, and 18.3% were asymptomatic. Forty-five percent of employees reported that they had been infected in their private environment, 41.7% suspected that their colleagues were the main contact, and 13.3% were unsure about the origin of their infection. Twenty-four diseased employees were ballet dancers, eight from the orchestra, seven from the administration, seven from the choir singers, six from the costume department, 10 from technical support, and one guest solo singer. In the 2020/2021 theater season, increased SARS-CoV-2 infections and large disease outbreaks were avoided at the Bavarian State Opera. Hygiene strategies, that existed since the beginning, was specifically designed for various work areas in the opera. Regular, mandatory PCR testing and follow-up of positive cases with the issuance of quarantine were performed. Using this disease management approach, artistic work at and reopening of the Bavarian State Opera was feasible with a well-controlled risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)798.e7-798.e20
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2024


  • Asymptomatic COVID-19 infection
  • Ballet dancer
  • Incidence of SARS-CoV-2
  • Musician
  • Singer


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