No boos at Bayreuth

No boos at Bayreuth


norman lebrecht

July 26, 2022

For the first time in living folk memory, the opening night of the Bayreuth Festival passed without a single cry of dissent.

Cheers, tears and relief greeted Stephen Gould and Catherine Foster as Tristan and Isolde. The orchestra were outstanding under jump-in conductor  Markus Poschner.

Angela Merkel appeared in a mask.

Has Covid changed human behaviour in Germany for good?



  • IP says:

    Gone are the high expectations.

  • ViennaCalling says:

    The jump-in conductor was Markus Poschner. Please correct your article.

  • Lost and found says:

    The jump-in conductor was Markus Poschner. Cornelius Meister is the jump-out conductor.

  • dramaturg says:

    Markus Poschner, not Meister. Meister will conduct the ring.

  • Singeril says:

    Must that wretched word, Covid, be brought into everything?

  • Michael says:

    But for the first time “in folk memory” the Bayreuth audience started to applaud before the magical music at the end of Act III had ended last night!!! It was like being at the Met! Will the ignorants who seem to have infiltrated this previously educated audience now destroy the ends of Acts I and III of Parsifal? #verysad The past booers at least used to wait until the end of the music!

    • MMcGrath says:

      Just curious: Are mimicking Andras Schiff? What a trial it sometimes is to attend opera with other people. Agreed. Not knowing when to applaud. It’s truly annoying. But then I tell myself: We need new and inexperienced audiences to keep the doors to theaters open and the music playing. So let’s grin and bear it?

      PS. Early applause is common in most Italian opera houses. Put it down to an enviable joie de vivre. And at the Metropolitan Opera it’s not ignorance but a traditional don’t-take-things-so-seriously approach to a night out at the theater or opera. In my experience it’s very different in German opera houses, where you get your eyes scratched out for breathing too loudly or lightly scratching your 5-o’clock shadow during Act 2 of Walkuere.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        Or… the audience could wait til the performance was over. Entirely easy to do. Even a novice opera-goer can discern if music is being played.

    • Mario says:

      I agree!
      Allow me to include the public of ours teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, that use to applaud when the curtain moves spoiling “the silence that follows the music”

    • Lilas Pastia says:

      It’s only the end of act I of Parsifal that traditionally is not applauded. Not act III

  • Gustavo says:

    I sat this one through on the wireless.

    After act 3, the audience started clapping before the music had actually finished which indicates a lack of interest and/or discipline.

    Or was it just ignorance? The pandemic may have opened up capacities for Wagner newbies – fair enough.

    While I did hear a single “boo” (for Isolde – partly justified as orchestra and singer drifted way apart during the “Liebestod”) what struck me were the annoyed “shshshs” at the beginning of act 2, clearly indicating that the audience was split into two parties – those aiming to listen attentively to the music versus those who would have preferred to continue their booze-stimulated conversations to discuss, for example, gas prices, Katharina’s me-too campaign, or the disadvantages of e-mobility.

    • Michael says:

      I appreciate your point about “newbies” – every opera house needs them – but do the rest of us have to tolerate the bad/ignorant/selfish/rude behaviour of these newbies or anyone else for that matter? I would have remonstrated – quietly but not necessarily politely – with any “early applauder(s)” close enough to speak to. As well as “please turn off your phones” do we now need a “please do not applaud until the music has stopped [you are NOT at the Met!]” announcement?

      • Gustavo says:

        “It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.”

        – Oscar Wilde –

        • Tamino says:

          Applauding into the final sounds of Liebestod is simply incomprehensible for any human being that is not a soulless piece of wood instead. „Tedious“ doesn‘t quite grasp it there. „Dumb like a potatoe“ seems more like it.

      • Ragnar Danneskjoeld says:

        It’s not Wagnerites vs. newbies. It’s decent people who happen to know how to behave vs. assholes who have to sit through this performance because they’re somehow required to and are bored beyond belief. Newbies may behave ignorantly once in a while but once they’re told they stop.

      • John G. DEACON says:

        I would never boo at Bayreuth (at the Herheim Parsifal the insults came so thick and fast I spent much of the time looking at the floor in shocked silence !) … but, yes, the MET is quite another story – a kind of “audience participation show” (“we’ll sing a little, you clap at lot, and we’ll all have a good time”). NY audiences have been destroying the last three great pieces at the end of La Bohème Act I for many years. At a Paris opera conference years ago I asked Peter Gelb if he could not do something, when filming, about the mis-placed applause which destroyed so many of their videos (such as the Bohème incident above). He replied “I wouldn’t dream of it” – so there you have it ! This dreadful disease is certainly here to stay – and most sadly it has spread elsewhere incl. the ROH and some Italian houses. If the Gelbs of this world can’t (or simply won’t) stop it then there’s no hope for any of us !!

  • TITUREL says:

    As a Bayreuth veteran, the boos are often hurled at the stage directors (as well they often should be). It seems weird to start clapping before the end of the sublime final cadence of Tristan. Siegfried or Meistersinger, maybe. I have different complaints. In the 21st century, there MUST be engineering solutions to provide silent air conditioning. And the high school bell alerting us to the closing doors seems out of place in such a venue.

    • Gustavo says:

      I heard an interview with the stage director who seemed to know what he was talking about and whose philosophy it is to serve the music first.

      Perhaps it worked?

      No excuse for the early clapping and aircon-noise though!

    • Lilas Pastia says:

      The school bell is part of the charm! NOW it starts. And necessary for the audience, as one obviously doesn’t see the conductor entering the pit at Bayreuth!

    • sonicsinfonia says:

      They have aircon at Bayreuth now?! Sure it wasn’t the ventilation machines to assist with covid, as used at the Proms last year?

    • phf655 says:

      In north america we solved the problem of silent air-conditioning about half a century ago.

      • Tamino says:

        So did Europe. But we also have protected architectural landmarks like the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which can’t easily be modified for a state of the art noiseless(!) air-conditioning.
        Also, in Bayreuth, the suffering in a way is part of the ascetic pilgrimage to the shrine.

  • PG Vienna says:

    Or may be the staging was not this time an amalgation of teenager obsessions……

  • Tristano Isoldata says:

    It was a cheap version – something like a date at McDonalds or Burger King served all with not even plastic cutlery or plates, just use your own hands kinda version of it. The audience was of the time asleep and woke up at the end pretty much. No need to Boo pure mediocrity. The good old times are simply gone. Now all you get is singing meat from the rearest fridge in the basement. All the good cuts are already taken and sold somewhere else.

    • ls says:

      Truly no clue what you’re talking about. Have been attending Bayreuth for years, and the standard in singing, while perhaps not at the post WWII peak of the early/mid 1950’s, has been significantly higher than the twenty-thirty years before it. Among recent highlights, I would certainly cite the Bychokov-led Parsifal starring Schager, Pankratova, and Groissboeck, the Jordan-led Meistersinger with Volle, Vogt, Kraenzle, Zeppenfeld, and Nylund, or Thielemann’s stunning Lohengrin in 2018 as indisputable improvements that few performances in recent decades prior came close to matching.

  • Player says:

    I assume not many bothered following Merkel in the mask-erade?

  • PaulD says:

    “Angela Merkel appeared in a mask.” Probably because she dared not show her face, as Germans contemplate a cold winter and declining industrial output due to her energy policies.

  • David Spence says:

    Sounds like, looks like to me that things have settled in for offering us, especially regarding the staging, Tristan muzak, especially for any of the extended time Tristan and Isolde are on stage together. Am I not right, ladies?

  • Guest says:

    Well, in the second performance audience did wait for a second before they applauded. And I didn’t hear any aircon noises either.