I was going to ignore the Rusulka 'booing' saga however after reading several comments suggesting that classical music is being reinvented by expressive audiences I thought I'd jump in - you are very wrong.
My opinion on the matter is that these people have paid to see and hear whatever they have booked and if it isn't at the standard of their ticket price then, in my view, they should be allowed to express their negative opinions. Booing or exclaiming words at the end of performance, though perhaps demeaning to the performer, is the definitive way of expressing your dissatisfaction.
I speak to many performers: singers, actors, conductors, composers and orchestras who don't care what the critics say, "as long as the audience loves it" they often remark and so what could be better than a raw audience reaction?
In these digitally enhanced times social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook are a source for much debate over these matters which allows there to be constant expressions of dissatisfaction from ordinary members of audiences from a wide discipline of artistic forms.
And what utterly fantastic news it is that we can continue this debate inside the auditorium: I refer now to Lucy Jones' Telegraph Blog where she reports hearing a composition student from the Guildhall School of Music shouting out their opinions at the end of a premiered work at this years Reverb Festival at the Camden Roundhouse - This is the real debate and what a brilliant artistic and creative world we live in if fellow creative minds can express their opinions in such a way, bravo indeed.
Booing or heckling, in my experience, has always been enlightening - I usually laugh.
Though I agree with the concept of booing in the opera house, I, like Igor Toroyni-Lalic, am a coward and would never be heard booing. Toronyi-Lalic and I have been lucky enough to procure public platforms for our opinions, the average punter is not so lucky and as they say 'everyone's a critic' and that is how it should be.
I think we all know that classical music and opera has changed dramatically in the past 100 years but let us take a look backward to then take a look forward and then realize what 'over the top' dramatists you all are.
Classical music and opera was once subject to worse than booing, in fact, more along the lines of rioting, violence and fisticuffs. In fact, Daniel Auber's 1830 opera La Muette de Portici (The Mute Girl of Portici) sparked the Belgian Revolution.
Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring caused a monumental uproar at its premiere on May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées: The music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd. The audience began to boo after hearing discordant tunes behind the bassoon's opening melody following that there were loud disputes in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work that were soon followed by shouting and punch-ups in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually ascended into a riot. The Paris police had arrived by interval but only restored limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance, so much so that the orchestra were unable to be heard.
Leonard Bernstein was also subjected to hecklers; his Mass caused a scandal at its premiere at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, USA when a woman loudly called it "blasphemy" as she walked out mid-concert.
John Cage even wrote his controversial work 4" 33, which is defined not only by its content, but also by the behaviour it elicits from the audience. Cage was quoted at the premiere as saying "They missed the point. There's no such thing as silence. What they thought was silence, because they didn't know how to listen, was full of accidental sounds. You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and during the third the people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out."
From my own experience I haven't heard an outburst quite like the disgruntled Bruckner fan at a London Philharmonic Orchestra concert a few months ago however booing is pretty much a common heckle, at least, that's my experience from traveling.
The so-pronounced rigid format in opera has always been subject to rule breakers and troublemakers and long may that continue.
To hear more booing, go to an opera house near you; would love to hear all your thoughts live.
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