There have been three recent instances reported of people heckling art music or operatic performances that have stirred up waves in the classical music community.
Lucy Jones, a blogger with The Telegraph, describes the latest incident, during a concert presented at London’s Reverb 2012 festival of new music, where a man (who turned out to be a composition student at the Guildhall school) yelled out “Rubbish!” at the top of his lungs.
You can read her blog post here.
This is crazy behaviour for a world that, some days, looks like it’s trying to encourage and empower and celebrate anything and everything.
Operagoers tend to be more voluble (and note how popular opera is these days) but, generally speaking, its much more common to see a standing ovation for a mediocre performance than it is to hear catcalls for something egregious.
I can appreciate how painful and disorienting it might be for a performer to be booed, but I also think that an audience member having a powerful reaction to a performance is fantastic. The ovation as well as the catcall should come from complete engagement, and should be celebrated as such.
Is there anything more damning of everyone in a hall than polite applause?
Here’s the curtain call from a 1989 Vienna State Opera production of Elektra, where the audience loves everyone by the conductor: