Vienna boss calls Dudamel booers ‘Idioten’

Vienna boss calls Dudamel booers ‘Idioten’


norman lebrecht

May 03, 2016

Dominique Meyer, head of the Vienna State Opera, lost his cool in a post-curtain interview, calling those who booed the company’s new Turandot ‘a pair of idiots’.

Actually, there were more than a couple of protesters against Marco Arturo Marelli’s production, with Gustavo Dudamel conducting and Lise Lindstrom in the title role. There was quite a hostile reception, sustained for several minutes, and Dudamel collected some pretty tough reviews in the morning papers for being too loud.

But Dominique Meyer is right: booing has become obligatory at Vienna first nights. It’s stupid and boring.

dudamel berlin


  • herrera says:

    “for being too loud.”

    Has Dudamel much experience conducting in a pit? Maybe he simply misjudged the volume of the orchestra in the hall (i.e., technical rather than interpretive).

    Let’s give him the doubt, he’ll learn to adjust for subsequent performances.

    • Milka says:

      It’s too late for him to learn on the job ..he is about ffff to impress his back home audience
      who are short on nuance but long on bombast.Surprise he didn’t have fireworks ……….

      • Alphonse Bodeaux says:

        Exactly. I’m sure this is just yet another situation of someones feelings being hurt.

    • Cuban Stallion says:

      Yes, although he spends most of his time conducting symphonic works, Dudamel has plenty of experience in the pit (La Scala since 2006 (he was even under consideration for the job of music director), Staatsoper Unter den Linden since at least 2008, etc.). He has also conducted opera in concert or semi-staged (notably the Mozart series with the Los Angeles Philharmonic). This does not excuse any criticisms of balance between orchestra and stage, but if they are justified, I just do not believe they stem from lack of experience.

    • Guus Mostart says:

      Dudamel is a good musician but no opera conductor. His Bohème last August at La Scala lacked italianità, sense of pulse and drama. He is also not in the habit of breathing with the singers; a very dull evening. I expect the “idiots” are right.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        I saw that Bohème, Guus. It was not fully cooked. But then neither was the orchestra, the Simon Bolivar, which was playing opera for the first time. I’m waiting to see Dudamel conduct opera with a professional opera ensemble.

  • Paolo V. Montanari says:

    As long as they do it after the music has stopped, booers can boo as much as they want. And insulting them is really pointless and wanting in elegance. Artistic directors do what they want without listening to the audience’s opinions anyway.

    • Sue says:

      Would have to agree with that. Here’s what Christian Thielemann says about the obstacles to be overcome in order to be a good conductor. (I hope I can post the link successfully!!):


  • Sue says:

    It didn’t work! I’ll give it another go: (if somebody can tell me how to embed links!!!!)

    • PhD says:

      You select, then right-click and copy the address line. You go to the place you wish to embed, and you right-click and press paste.

      But you seem to have managed this time.

      • Sue says:

        Thanks, but I meant embed WITHOUT all the extra links on the right hand side. In short, ONLY the single link.

    • herrera says:

      Thanks to you, I just lost 3 hours watching his entire series of 3 lectures at Oxford. Fascinating. He comes across as personable, likable, humorous and vulnerable (and of course formidably knowledgeable about Wagner and Strauss and the craft of conducting in the pit).

  • Robert says:

    If you open yourself to the public you open yourself to criticism.
    If you have paid a great deal of money and what has been put in front of you is rubbish you are entitled to show your feelings in whatever way you want to.
    So fed up of paying good money only to have total dross put in front of me.
    It is a shame because if these people are employed to do a good job and they have failed…

  • Mike Schachter says:

    The public has a right to an opinion, or many different opinions, as long as they wait till the music has finished. Part of the problem is that directors patronise audiences, they are not worthy of their genius. They often take the same view of composers.

  • DB says:

    “Ein Paar” does not necessarily mean “a pair”, in the same sense that “a couple of” usually means more than two.

  • pianoronald says:

    “Ein Paar” with a capital P means “two”. “Ein paar” means “a few” or “several”.

  • Larry W says:

    Dudamel was too loud? He better stop using a light saber to conduct.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Balancing the pit with the singers in opera productions is difficult since the conductor is not at the best location to judge the result. Post-Mozart operas often have very big orchestras which then always have to be sourdined-down, a contradiction which has been solved by Wagner in his Festspielhaus: cover the pit and thus dampen the volume. But then, some ‘bite’ of the sound disappears. Conducting in opera productions always seems to me the art of compromise. But it is a very interesting challenge on all levels. Conductors who manage to ‘fold’ even a large orchestra around the singers in a concert performance, so: without blowing them away, can be exp[ected to know exactly how to balance such situations in the pit:

  • James White says:

    I was there in the Gallery where I could see the two (and yes I could see only two) who were booing (though oddly at the same time they were clapping quite enthusiastically) and agree with Herr Meyer that they were idiots.

    I didn’t get any sense that the orchestra was too loud for the singers or that as viewers we were being offered anything less than a well performed, produced and sung performance of Turandot.