Reader Thomas listened to the Sirius broadcast of the Met's first Turandot of the season - the same performance I attended last week. He asks why I didn't mention the "loud boos for Marcello Giordani" which were apparently audible on the broadcast.
The answer is that radio broadcasts can manipulate and distort the relative dynamics of live sound - singers who are inaudible in the house come across as hefty-voiced, and crystalline orchestration turns to mud. I've heard enough Proms broadcasts afer attending the live event to know that the two can be very different. What's more, misguided or sometimes just mistimed commentary can mislead too - I don' t know if that was the case here.
So while I don't doubt for a moment that Thomas heard loud booing for Giordani on Sirius, it didn't sound that way in the house.
Here's what actually went down. At the first act curtain call, Giordani, Poplavskaya and Ramey came out together, hand in hand. There was some isolated but vehement booing from somewhere at the back. I would guess maybe only two people, and close together. Booing, like heckling, takes minimal firepower to cut through applause. With big lungs, even a solitary booer can make his presence felt. I've heard widespread booing in the past (any new German production is an inevitable recipient) and it sounds quite different - it just fills the house.
I don't know who the shouting was targeted at, either. Giordani didn't give a particularly enthusiastic performance, and his low notes just disappeared. But then Poplavskaya and Ramey, who were more committed to their roles, had technical issues - tuning for her, vibrato for him. None of them were terrible, but none were perfect - the boos could have been directed at any or perhaps all of them.
I listened closely for boos at subsequent curtain calls, and didn't catch any. If there was more, it wasn't loud enough to reach my ears. I concluded that probably a pair of particularly exacting operagoers had a bad day and a couple of drinks too many before the show.
So no need for Mr Gelb to set up an inquisition this time round.