Brow Beat

Europeans Under Lockdown Are Singing Together and Giving Their Health Care Workers Citywide Ovations

A Barcelona street, lined with shops, nearly empty. A lone woman walks away from the camera with a shopping bag.
A nearly-empty street in Barcelona. Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

As Europe implements quarantine measures in hopes of slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, Europeans on lockdown have begun using their open windows for public displays of solidarity, ranging from rounds of applause for the medical workers on the front lines of the crisis to impromptu opera performances. Videos of neighborhood-wide singalongs and other public demonstrations of unity have begun spreading on social media, each one simultaneously an eerie warning of how severely the novel coronavirus has hit Europe and a moving demonstration of the ways people reach out to each other to assert their common humanity in dark times. Chef José Andres shared a video from Spain, where a social media campaign led to a national round of applause for the nation’s health care workers, with people all over the country taking to their balconies at 10:00 p.m. Saturday to show their gratitude. According to Andres’ friend, five minutes in, the noise was still deafening:

La Vanguardia had more footage of the demonstrations:

In Italy, solidarity took a more musical tone. Journalist Jessica Phelan filmed her Roman neighbors singing anti-fascist anthem “Bella Ciao”:

Elsewhere in the city, pop triumphed over politics, as a neighborhood came together to perform the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest’s third-place winner “Nei Blu, Dipinto di Blu,” a.k.a. “Volare”:

In Florence, tenor Maurizio Marchini serenaded the city with a performance of “Nessun Dorma”:

And in Siena, people sang the Canto della Verbena (officially titled “E Mentre Siena Dorme”), a folk song and local anthem more typically heard in soccer stadiums than on empty streets:

The videos are an extraordinary record of solidarity in frightening times, and a powerful reminder that no one is facing this pandemic alone, even in quarantine.

Update, March 14, 9:53 p.m.: Quarantine isn’t all opera and applause, as this video of a slightly less inspiring balcony concert demonstrates: