Georgia Szpilman’s soprano voice resounds beautifully in the apartment’s small living room, though the space lacks the acoustics of where her choir used to sing — Rio de Janeiro’s majestic municipal theater, which has been closed for over a year because of the pandemic.
Szpilman is one among many artists sidelined by the coronavirus in Brazil’s cultural capital.
Rio is the cradle of samba and bossa nova music and home to libertine Carnival festivities that encourage costumes and clowning. But with virus cases and deaths still surging, concert halls and theaters stay shut. Some venues, like the Carnival parade grounds, even became vaccination stations.
“The magic of the crowd is missing, that exchange, and I feel like half of myself,” Szpilman says. “I try to imagine I’m presenting on stage and withdraw that energy from my soul for the crowd.”
Members of the municipal theater’s choir, orchestra and ballet are technically public servants, and have continued...