Air Flows in Opera

Philippe Bourrianne, Paul R. Kaneelil, Manouk Abkarian, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Clusters of contaminations have been identified within rehearsing choirs during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, singing and playing wind instruments are known to generate enhanced release of respiratory droplets, which are then transported by the expiratory flows. By tracking the air exhaled by professional opera singers and musicians from the MET Orchestra in New York City, we measure the spatial extent of the various air flows in opera. While loud singing is often associated with fast flows, professional opera singers and musicians are usually exhaling air flows slower than the air jets exhaled by a person breathing at rest. However, we identify a few situations leading to the release of rapid air jets that are able to enhance the transport of pathogenic droplets within an orchestra. Finally, we show how singing with a facemask and covering the bell of a wind instrument provide a strong reduction of the transport of respiratory droplets, in addition to the filtration features of a mask.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024042
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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