Much disruption at the Met’s Puritani

Much disruption at the Met’s Puritani


norman lebrecht

February 11, 2017

New York Classical Review reports ‘one of the Met’s worst-behaved audiences in some time’ at Friday’s I Puritani.

One disgruntled fanatic in the balcony who shouted “NO HIGH F!” during the applause…

An overeager and premature fan began to scream adulation in Italian from the rafters long before the orchestra finished, prompting angry cries from other listeners…

All this and more. Read here.



  • Cyril Blair says:

    Ok but…..”….even if it breaks concert etiquette, the impassioned outbursts were refreshing and a little Yankee Stadium fire helps to create a thrilling energy in the house. I’ll take a wild night like Friday’s over dutiful disinterest any day of the week” he then finished.

  • PaulD says:

    Well, at least a cell phone didn’t go off at an inopportune time.

  • Respect says:

    Thrilling energy? Sounds like a claque……

  • Alexander says:

    ….it just means that Scala’s most ardent “customs enforcers” dropped by the Met , unless their own marketing department wants to “refresh” the ambience in the House 😉

  • Alexander Davidson says:

    A particular bugbear of mine is that I do wish that opera and ballet audiences would wait for silence (or at least the end of the last note) before beginning to applaud, in the way that one does at a concert. Part of the problem, as I see it, is the habit that opera houses have of allowing the curtain to begin to fall before the piece is actually over. The audience seems to think that as soon as the curtain begins to fall it’s ok to start applauding. Some operas, like Dialogues des Carmélites, seem to me to invite a period of silent reflection before applause breaks out, just as one would not want applause to break out immediately at the end of, say, Das Lied von der Erde. But even in an opera such as Tosca, which evidently demands immediate applause, it would be nice to actually hear the last notes unobstructed by applause. So if somebody begins “to scream adulation in Italian from the rafters long before the orchestra finished”, it is just an extreme version of a regular complaint of mine. Of course, ballet audiences are even worse than opera audiences, applauding and cheering over the music as a matter of routine, and not just at the end, or when a natural break occurs, but often in the middle of things, sometimes applauding and cheering just because a favourite dancer has stepped onto the stage. Hence the need for audiences at Kenneth MacMillan’s Requiem to be explicitly asked not to applaud throughout the work, as though it were not obvious that it would ruin it.

    Perhaps my problem is that my introduction to music was through sacred choral music, so the music actually was deemed to be sacred in the original sense of the word. From there it was a natural progression to become interested in early music, and only later in the standard repertoire of the modern concert hall. I became interested in opera only in my 20s, and in ballet only in my 30s. That does, perhaps, explain my intolerance towards the more enthusiastic conventions of the opera house, compared with those of the church and the concert hall.

    By the way, since somebody else is now posting here under the name Alexander I have decided to begin posting under a new, and hopefully more distinctive, name.

    • Alexander says:

      I read your post carefully and waited for silence at the end to put my remark here 😉

    • Anon says:

      I’d often agree with you. However, some arias feel as though they have more orchestral material tagged on the end simply to allow for characters to move on the stage, nothing musical about it. And in that sense, no need to wait for the end. Applause is often best when it is spontaneous and rigorously enforcing modern concert-hall conventions can get in the way of that.

      Think of jazz, where great solos will merit applause, even if that goes over the start of someone else’s solo; the start of a well-loved melody instigates applause; the entrance of a star soloist or player is received by applause, even though that obliterates their opening notes. And we believe that this manner of behaviour was perhaps the norm back in the concert halls of the 1700’s and on. So why try to rigidly enforce something different now?

      • Pianofortissimo says:

        Classical music is not jazz.

      • Nik says:

        Some arias don’t even have an ending and can only be applauded if the audience forces its way in. For example, ‘Nessun Dorma’ has an adapted ending that is used in recital/football stadium settings, but within the opera it actually ends in a key change that transitions straight into the next scene. I’ve seen performances where the audience was so startled by the unfamiliar sound that they forgot to applaud, and I have to admit I preferred it.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Fully agree. Met audiences are utterly undisciplined and begin applauding before the last notes are played, irrespective of what is performed by whom (the crazy pace of NYC life, I guess…). It is one big reason why I don’t go to the Met that much anymore. In addition, I also join Alexander in his 😉 comment. Seriously.

      • Robin Worth says:

        I saw the 1966/67 season at La Scala

        If anyone dared to applaud before the last note died away, there was a “sssss” from all those around the (non Milanese) offender

        The RAH audience kept silent a few years ago at the end of Barenboim’s Gotterdammerung, so it can still be done

    • JBB says:

      I also hate when ballet audiences applaud the set when the curtain is raised.

      • JBB says:

        …during the overture, I mean.

      • John Kelly says:

        Typically at the Met they applaud the opening of Act 2 of Zeffirelli’s overblown Boheme because it’s a stage spectacle featuring, among other things, a pony (or donkey) schlepping a cart across the front of the stage. It’s still “bread and circuses” in NY and the US in general. Witness our new President…………..

        So any fantasy that they might wait for the music to actually finish before applauding is, unfortunately, a fantasy.

      • jaxon says:

        This is one of my pet peeves and it happens absolutely everywhere, from ballet to opera to community theater.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    A shame, an opera done rarely enough as it is, and I always thought much better than Norma

  • Tim Walton says:

    Well it’s America – What do you expect!