Thursday, January 08, 2009


For some reason, every Met performance since Christmas seems to be the scene of a similar problem. In the words of teenage operablogger CaroNome after the December 27 Thaïs:
IN THE WORDS OF A FAMOUS TENOR “SHUT UP WITH YOUR DAMN COUGHING.” For goodness sake, people. During intermission hack up your lungs for all I care, sneeze until your brains come out, but when the lights go down I want SILENCE! It wasn’t just an occasional sporadic cough or sneeze, but every time someone coughed it would send a chain reaction of “Okay, then I can cough/sneeze now too.” Sometime’s it would go on for minutes until I wanted to scream! Seriously, opera fans, it’s not that hard to cough at intermission, or to keep quiet for the short amount of time the singers were on stage!
Love always,
CaroNome of Score Desk
I don't have a specific explanation, but there definitely seems to have been a change from before Christmas to after that's continued even through this week. And perhaps even this truly bizarre incident (people forcing their way into the auditorium during an act and then loudly tripping in the dark!? -- really?) is part of the recent trend...

Perhaps the semi-break in the schedule later this month will return some self-control and self-awareness (many of the chronic coughers, throat-clearers, etc. seem actually oblivious to the fact that everyone -- including, often, the singers -- can hear them) to the house.


  1. I agree 100%!! I've been thinking about this lately because I saw Magic Flute and it was like that but I thought, "Oh, it's because they're a bunch of kids here." But then I saw Thais and the SAME THING happened. There was so much coughing and there was also laughing and TALKING. I couldn't believe it! It's like a totally different opera house! What is going on? I'm very upset about this. I want my "you can hear a pin drop" Met back!

  2. I noticed this at the Dec. 26th performance of La Boheme. I put it down to a post-Christmas influx of families who probably didn't normally go to the opera.

    I'm distressed now to hear that this behavior is becoming more common.

  3. Get used to it. It's the natural result of 2 much praised recent phemnomema:

    "outreach" and "community involvement" by the opera houses - new audiences do not know or care how to behave in a concert hall. Nor do the houses - afraid of seeming stuffy - make any effort to educate on this crucial point

    the emphasis on the visual and "acting" - music is now considered background to the real show (as it is in a movie)

  4. The doomsday theory would make more sense if this weren't literally an overnight phenomenon.

  5. Why is it bad that we might (emphasis on 'might') have a new audience? That opera may actually be becoming more popular? I think that based on JSU's glowing comments on the recent Violetta and Mimi (who's names I have forgotten), we can assume that the Gelb regime is NOT doing away with beautiful singing, as "whatever" would have us believe. Maybe the audience doesn't know all the rules... or maybe the idea that we have rules at all is the problem.

  6. There used to be a listing of good manners in the program at least as late as the early 1980s. Personally, I like to seek out the offending individual and humiliate them during intermission.


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.