Extinction Rebellion activists halt Verdi Requiem at Concertgebouw, comparing to ‘sinking Titanic’

3 November 2022, 17:19 | Updated: 3 November 2022, 17:26

Protester, ‘Sebastian’ was one of three Extinction Rebellion members who interrupted a performance at The Royal Concertgebouw earlier this week
Protester, ‘Sebastian’ was one of three Extinction Rebellion members who interrupted a performance at The Royal Concertgebouw earlier this week. Picture: Twitter / Extinction Rebellion Nederland

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Climate protesters interrupted a performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the world-renowned Amsterdam concert hall on Wednesday evening.

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A performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem came to a halt on Wednesday evening at The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam when a climate protester interrupted the performance.

In a video shared by the global environmental movement, ‘Extinction Rebellion’, a protester seated in the midst of the auditorium level of the concert hall stood up to shout across the venue, “We are in the middle of a climate crisis and we are like the orchestra on the Titanic that keeps playing quietly while the ship is already sinking.”

The protester, named by the protest group as Sebastian, was one of three who interrupted the performance at 8.30pm on 2 November and used their hijacked platform to call on the Dutch government to do everything they could to reach carbon-neutrality by 2025.

All three of the protesters were dragged out by booing audience members, and reportedly some Concertgebouw staff, with Sebastian’s exit captured in the below video.

Read more: Mona Lisa smeared with cake by Louvre ‘protester’ in confusing act of cultural vandalism

Extinction Rebellion protester interrupts Dutch Orchestra

In a statement released by Extinction Rebellion, the group said, “The response of this room to the action is indicative of the way the Dutch elite deal with the climate crisis.

“People are already dying from the consequences of this crisis. But just as the orchestra continued to play on the Titanic – even when the ship was sinking for a long time – we in the Netherlands continue with our lives as if nothing is wrong.”

Verdi’s Requiem (full name: Messa da Requiem), is a musical setting of the Catholic funeral mass for four soloists, choir and orchestra, and Wednesday night’s concert was played by the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano who specialise in performing Verdi and other, mostly Italian composers.

Read more: The world’s pioneering orchestras using classical music to respond to the climate crisis

A representative for the Dutch arm of Extinction Rebellion, Jelle de Graaf, explained that the Requiem was chosen as the performance of choice to be targeted as “so many people are dying because of climate change”.

The organisation also expressed their dismay for how the protesters were treated, sharing on Twitter: “The peaceful Rebels were grabbed, pushed and dragged through the hall by about 20 people, including over other spectators. Luckily they only got away with torn clothes.”

The Concertgebouw responded to the incident and the organisation’s complaint in a statement, that while sympathetic said, “These actions shouldn’t be aimed at cultural events. They can also lead to panic and danger to people”.