La traviata - Royal Opera House, 22 June 2009
Yes, the unthinkable has happened. An American import more obnoxious than Paris Hilton has found its way to WC2. Tonight, as the curtain drew back on Act 2 scene 2 of La traviata, a small but not insignificant group *applauded* the admittedly sumptuous 19th century gaming salon and its splendid array of frocks and furbelows (above). From the posh seats, too.
I have myself travelled amongst the American peoples - so like us and yet so different - and have observed that from east coast to west, it is their custom to put their hands together once the Zeffirelli coefficient (measured as the number of crinolines multiplied by the yards of drapery on stage) exceeds the number of people in the audience who are actually listening to the music.
Over there, I find it harmless and moderately amusing. Over here, it is the first omen of the apocalypse. I know the theatre this time of year is filled with people who don't go the opera when there's an R in the month, but that's no excuse. I can forgive phones, coughs, sweets, late arrivals and dropped programmes, but not this. It hasn't happened before, and it mustn't happen again.
Was that what put Pappano off his stride? I doubt it, but pit and stage drifted apart more times than I bothered to count tonight. Still, it can't be easy running an opera house, conducting a high profile production, and on top of that having to prepare yet another recital programme for the
Rolando Dmitri Fab Four concert on Wednesday at 48 hours notice. Allowances can be made.
UPDATE - for those who emailed wondering wanting more detail on the production - my first night pensées are here.