Applause at live relays

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Applause at live relays

Post  Mike Reynolds on Sat Sep 13, 2008 3:44 pm

The relay to Snape Maltings of 'Don Giovanni' featured that emerging dilemma for audiences watching a screening - to applaud or not to applaud when the live audience is doing so. What is happening elsewhere? It seems obvious that if you really enjoy a passage, you should applaud - but lots of people seem shy of doing so! Is a trend emerging - what are other people's experiences?

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Applaus

Post  Francis Shelton on Sat Sep 13, 2008 11:50 pm

Clapping seems to be a geneticallyu implanted reaction to releasing pentup emotions of elation, approval and even self-celebration. Even Bushmen clapped in the Kalahari Desert, when Yo Yo Ma treated them to Bach suites...
I have not yet watched public sreenings, and, personally, I would not take part in
clapping engendered by what goes on the screen.
However, I just came home from an unforgettable concert by the Bolivar Youth Orchestra under its truly phenomenal Director, Dumamel. and the applause by an audience of 2500 was instantaneous,infectious and quite suprisingly spontenous and joyful in a sedate German audience- most of them in early middleage.
The performance was so superb, exciting and electrfying, that if I did not have to spare my arthritic hands, I would l have loved to take part in the general paroxism.
There was, however, one feature of this fully deserved hurrican of applause, that I incrasingly resent, and that is the applause eventually degenerating into a rythmic and longdrawn clapping and stomping on the floor.
This sycofantic habit originated in the Soviet Union and slavishly introduced into its
unspeakable satellites, greeting the speeches and even the appearance of their corrupt,incompetent and evil masters. This form of slavish and humiliating charade was called IRON CLAPPING, and it still marks the end of performances of a musical or theatrical character in what were the countries bihind theIron Curtain.
Increasingly, I find that this uncivilised manner of tribal stomping now spreads into more civilised climes, and we should resist.
Alas, I increasingly feel when airing some of my obsessions, that King Canute had more chance turning back the tides , than I have with my meek whimpering.
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Re: Applause at live relays

Post  StephenG on Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:29 am

'Uncivilised' stomping?! I think, notwithstanding the association that Iron Stomping calls to mind of mass-misinformation, the opportunity to physically cut loose (the stomping doesn't have to be as four-square and regimented as you imagine) in a concert environment (alas so rare!) should be taken with both feet. Or at least viewed a tad more benignly.......

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Applause, live and otherwise

Post  Janet Woodall on Tue Sep 16, 2008 5:50 pm

The same dilemma (applaud or not applaud) exists in a live performance though doesnít it? If an aria has been delivered unequivocally well then it is clear cut and more or less the entire audience will erupt in applause, but more often there is a slightly embarrassed pause of people not wanting to be the first. (The only thing worse than no applause after the big aria must be only one person clapping!) No doubt this is born of lack of confidence in trusting oneís own judgement felt by many members of an operatic audience, and the assumption that everyone around you knows better than you, so most folk wait and see what others do. Once the first individual starts clapping then you can feel the release as others join in. At least that is my usual experience at ROH.

Iíve not been to an opera screening but I was at the ROH for the relayed Don Giovanni performance (no, Iím not a Sun reader!) and found it hugely refreshing that the audience, many of whom really were first timers, were totally relaxed in their reactions, clapping, laughing and showing genuine appreciation for the entertainment unfolding before them.

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Applause

Post  Janet Woodall on Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:13 pm

I've just read this in a review and thought it had some relevance to the topic:

"Lavish and somewhat garish designs add to the feel of an upmarket musical, almost as much as in Francesca Zambelloís Carmen, also for the Royal Opera. If this is what attracts customers Ė judging by the Philistine applause following the stage pyrotechnics of Giovanniís descent into Hell, I fear that it might Ė then let them stay at home." http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/articles.htm

I have rarely felt quite so patronised! I am no fan of Zambello's production but this reviewer seems to have completely forgotten that opera is primarily a form of entertainment. OK, so Giovanni's descent to Hell isn't the final scene, but it IS the climax.

Hurrumph!

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Re: Applause at live relays

Post  Dominic McHugh on Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:52 pm

Well yes, and what's wrong with having flames to illustrate a man's descent into Hell? Surely it's remarkably faithful to the text!

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Re: Applause at live relays

Post  hugo on Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:01 pm

It's a shame that today the line between applause as a spontaneous expression of delight and applause as a barometer of one's understanding of concert/opera etiquette has become so blurred. It's true, there is nothing worse than a sheepish round of clapping and this is where I slightly lost patience at the proms this year. I have no issue with a spontaneous outburst after a movement but it's faintly embarrassing when there's a kind of 'ooh, they've stopped playing, shall we clap. ok, why not'.

I can remember attending a performance of Parsifal in Vienna, though, where I think the programme included a request not to clap after the close of the first act. The opera, in German speaking countries particularly, fulfils the a rather baffling role as some mystical extension of Easter so the audience is, presumably, expected at this moment to be experiencing some sort of quasi-religious revelation. At a performance I attended though, applause did break out - a couple of seconds after the music had stopped - only to be greeted with a barrage of 'Shhh' from the more devout Wagnerians in the audience - so it all actually ended in a rather undignified battle between the clappers and the shhh-ers. I've heard it claimed that this request for silence after the first act has a provenance that leads back to Wagner himself, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Meister wasn't actually fussed either way. Maybe someone can confirm? Also, am I right in thinking this spurious footnote to the 'Lex Parsifal' is not observed at Covent Garden?

As a final thought, one of the most thrilling moments I've experienced at an opera house was - again in Vienna - when a Cavaradossi (I think it was Marcello Giordani) absolutely nailed his 'Vittoria's in Act Two of Tosca. The audience erupted into spontaneous applause and cheering drowning out the next ten seconds or so as the orchestra persevered. I can imagine that sort of thing happens in Italian houses all the time (?) but it was an unforgettable moment of almost gladiatorial operatic spectacle.

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Applause at live relays

Post  Mike Reynolds on Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:44 pm

Interesting thoughts here. I don't have a problem applauding/not applauding at any live event but it's the specific experience of opera on screen to a live audience that feels a bit weird.
Kenneth Branagh's Magic Flute posed the same dilemma: at one screening I saw there was spontaneous applause for the Queen of the Night's second aria and at another (in Paris) total silence. Both were valid because they expressed what the group of people watching were feeling at that moment. But in the house, part of the applause ritual is the whole business of audience feedback to the artist.
I suppose increasing interactivity might lead to some ingenious technical solution, where singers get retrospective feedback on how their performances were received on the big screen. Or not.

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Re: Applause at live relays

Post  BigCat on Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:40 am

I sometimes applaud in front of my girlfriend and cat after listening to a particularly memorable recording in the privacy of my own home. A good example would be "Ah non giunge..." sung by she-who-must-not-be-named and conducted by Votto - partly as a non-verbal expression of appreciation, but also as a genetically implanted reaction to releasing pent-up emotions of elation, approval and even self-celebration!

I remember a performance of Rigoletto in the ENO Miller production attended by a vast contingent of Italians (It was immediately after the Operatunity performances) in which the tenor, conductor and orchestra paused for the obligatory applause after a particularly lacklustre "La donna Ť mobile" only to be greeted by the yawning chasm of excruciating silence! Not a single soul applauded, myself included. The tenor immediately picked up his game and went on to salvage his reputation by the end of the opera.

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