Vienna Opera bans ‘bravos’

Vienna Opera bans ‘bravos’


norman lebrecht

August 25, 2020

The latest Covid rules on the Staatsoper website require operagoers not to shout ‘bravo’ after a thrilling aria for fear of spreading virus-bearing aerosols.

As difficult as it is: Refrain from shouts of bravo,’ says the instruction. Just clap louder, it advises. And do not remove your mask.

We are sure there will be some boos.


  • Rodolfo says:

    Back to historical practices! The viennese theater ordnance of 1800 used to have a imperial “good behavior code”, which forbade pounding canes on the floor , stamping the floor with feet, shouting, extensive applause and most importantly, encores!
    That’s why there were no more than 5 curtain calls for Beethoven’s 9th. The police commissioner (Polizei Comissär) had shouted “Ruhe” and sent everyone home.

  • Manu says:


  • sam says:

    Why do humans applaud? Birds don’t applaud after their suitor’s virtuosic vocal performance. They just go directly to mating. That’s what fans should do, if they are sufficiently moved by the Liebestod, they should climb onto the stage and proceed directly to copulation to show their everlasting appreciation.

  • SVM says:

    Strictly speaking, I do not think it actually bans shouting (although it does discourage the practice), but it is banning the removal of masks during the applause. I would translate the relevant sentence as follows: “Even if it may be difficult, please register your enthusiasm exclusively through clapping/stamping, and do not remove your mask even once for well deserved ‘bravissimi’.”. [German original: “Auch wenn es noch so schwerfällt: Bitte drücken Sie Ihre Begeisterung ausschließlich durch möglichst lautes Klatschen aus und nehmen Sie Ihren Mund-Nasen-Schutz nicht einmal für wohlverdiente Bravissimi ab.”]

    • Lausitzer says:

      It’s a bit weird. The wording indeed asks just “do not take off your surgical mask even for well earned Bravissimi”. And the request is written as if taking the mask off would be prerequisite to shouting something. But a surgical mask is no gag whatsoever, it just may feel so when not used to wearing one.

      “Surgical mask” because this is indeed the exact meaning of the German term “Mund-Nasen-Schutz”, as opposed to some “community masks” with completely unspecified properties. Asking for real medical masks would indeed make sense now, they are no scare items anymore.

    • Larry L. Lash / Wien says:

      At the risk of offering duelling translations, this is how I read it:

      “No matter how difficult it is: Please express your enthusiasm only by clapping as loudly as possible and do not take off your mouth and nose protection, even for well-deserved bravissimi.”

      I stress: ONLY by clapping.

      Even the accompanying illustration shows a human head with sounds emanating from its mouth, all in a circle with a diagonal stripe through it. And this is listed under the protocols for what to do AFTER a performance – in now way does it encourage interrupting an act for applause after an aria.

      As I have tickets for both Staatsoper and Theater an der Wien in September, I checked with my doctor, who advised that I wear an FFP2 mask and, despite the theatres’ statement that masks may be removed once seated, I should keep mine on during the performances.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    I never understood why people need to interrupt the music after arias. Very often we also miss the orchestral ending. Can’t the frenetic applause and ovations wait for a minute after the act has ended? One should cherish a minute of stillness in the end too.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      In the end, it’s entertainment, not church.

    • Bruce says:

      There’s always someone who needs to should “Bravo” instantaneously (so quickly that you can tell they took their breath before the end of the singer’s final note) so that their voice can be preserved for posterity in the recording, in case the performance is ever broadcast. Opera fans are particularly prone to make pirate recordings — much easier now that the technology is so much smaller. (Remember the movie “Diva”?)

      My orchestra had a “superfan” once upon a time who knew where the onstage microphones were placed and would inch his way down toward the edge of the stage toward the end of a piece so he could shout “Bravo” before the applause began. He was clearly audible on all the broadcasts.

  • Manrico says:

    I love to be the first person to clap at the Staatsoper as the pit door is opened for the conductor. It is just fun. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy a performance though wearing a mask the whole time.