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Crisis-hit Paris Opera cancels shows over virus
In this file photo taken on February 17, 2020, Paris National Opera workers display a banner as protesters demonstrate in front of Paris' Opera Garnier in Paris, as part of a multi-sector strike against the French government's pensions overhaul. Alain JOCARD / AFP.

PARIS (AFP).- Crisis-hit Paris Opera has been forced to cancel a ballet, opera and a concert because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The institution has been haemorrhaging money after being hit by a month-and-a-half-long strike over pension reforms that saw the curtain come down on 85 performances.

Its management pulled a programme of three short ballets by the choreographer George Balanchine on Monday night after the French government banned public gatherings of more than 1,000 people to slow the spread of COVID-19.

But it said a performance of Jules Massenet's opera "Manon" starring the South African soprano Pretty Yende will go ahead behind closed doors so it can be filmed on its Opera Bastille stage.

A Mahler concert next Wednesday has also been shelved.

Paris Opera, which has lost 16.4 million euros ($18.6 million) in ticket sales alone because of the strike, said it will decide Wednesday the fate of the rest of its programme, including its flagship production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle, which is due to start next month.

In the wake of the French government ban, Madonna on Monday cancelled the last two dates of her "Madame X" tour in Paris.

The 61-year-old "queen of pop" had been forced to cancel another show in the French capital in February because of a leg injury.

While the Paris Opera has chosen to cancel performances, the 2,000-seat Theatre du Chatelet said it was trying to work around the restrictions, while the Theatre National de Chaillot said it was also limiting admissions to its dance show to 1,000 people.

The Paris Humour Festival said Tuesday that it was going ahead although four big stand-up shows at the 2,800-seat Grand Rex theatre were being postponed until June and October.

So far 25 people have died in France from COVID-19, with French Culture Minister Franck Riester announcing Monday that he has been infected.

He was "doing fine", his ministry said, and was self-isolating at home.

© Agence France-Presse

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