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Audience Behavior

49 posts in this topic

I apologize if this has already been mentioned, but if it hasn't: Those who hum along with the orchestra.

Birdsall mentioned that the Russians comment alot during performances. This is true, at home and

when the companies tour here.

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As Helene posted above, we've discussed this several times before ... but the culprits are not listening. Bad audience behavior seems to be one of those gifts that goes on giving.

My latest experience -- a performance of Wagner's Rienzi at Rome Opera. The last act has its longeurs before the thrilling conclusion. Several couples could not wait until the end and proceeded slowly down the center aisle, edging their way along the FRONT the of the first row. Since the conductor was standing quite a bit above the eye level of the audience, these early leavers could easily have kissed him on the neck or given him a backrub. The singers, at thay time singing their hearts out right at the edge of the stage, and orchestra members could not possibly have failed to notice.

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I apologize if this has already been mentioned, but if it hasn't: Those who hum along with the orchestra.

Birdsall mentioned that the Russians comment alot during performances. This is true, at home and

when the companies tour here.

Yes, the humming or even singing along at operas is ridiculous! I don't know what is going on in their heads. We are paying to hear the people on stage not our fellow audience members.

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The New Yorker's Culture Desk blog put up an article yesterday called Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Cell-Phone Smashing of 2013. An excerpt:

New York folk heroes are born with an act of brazenness. And not just any kind: the heroic act has to give voice to the voiceless (or at least the passive-aggressive), display moxie where others have buried their heads in frustration. [ . . . ] Now comes Kevin Williamson, who two nights ago blogged at the National Review about an act of vigilante theatregoing during “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” the “War and Peace”-inspired poperetta currently playing in a tent in the Meatpacking District. The show unfolds in a faux-Russian supper club, where audience members swill vodka and dine on caviar and borscht. Still, you’re supposed to be paying attention to the actors as you’re revelling—unlike the woman sitting next to Williamson. According to his account, the woman was incessantly Googling on her smartphone. (In her defense, maybe she was looking up the Battle of Austerlitz?) When he asked her to stop, she replied with a dismissive “So don’t look.” After several more attempts, Williamson used his “famously feline agility” to snatch the phone from the woman’s hand and hurl it across the room, at which point the woman slapped him and stormed out, as security escorted Williamson to the lobby. He is still waiting to see if she’ll press charges; he told Gothamist, “I don’t want to suggest I’m Henry David Thoreau protesting the Mexican-American War, but I’ll do a day in jail if I have to.” And you thought “War and Peace” was eventful!

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I apologize if this has already been mentioned, but if it hasn't: Those who hum along with the orchestra.

Birdsall mentioned that the Russians comment alot during performances. This is true, at home and

when the companies tour here.

When I saw this thread this is what I thought of immediately! We barely ever have big classical productions here where I live, recently they did a SL after ELEVEN years of not showing it... and I got stuck next to a guy that was humming along all night. He kept ruining the moment for me, especially since he only hummed along the famous bits, he was just trying to show off IMO which made it even more aggravating.

Also was stuck behind a lady that decided to hack and cough to clear her throat during Odette and Siegfried's PDD... it wasn't a couching fit she couldn't control. I was very annoyed.

Not to mention a bunch of people that showed up late and were let in (I'd say about 15 people) and caused an interruption getting to their seats in the middle of Act 1.

Rude. Especially since there barely ever are productions like these here, don't know when I'll be able to see a big classical ballet production again, so I wanted to enjoy the moment a lot. Not to say it wouldn't be rude otherwise...

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The audiences in Belgium (where I am at the moment) are very well behaved.

Last week I went to see the Royal Ballet of Flanders and ended up sitting beside a family. I was a bit wary of the little boy, who seemed a bit edgy and not interested in the show about to start at all. I was expecting a lot of shifting in the seat and "Daddy, why is...? What is...? I'm BORED!" etc. But you know what? The kids kept totally still and silent for the whole thing. Really well behaved.

Civilisation is still alive and well in some places!

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Ballet dancers often post photos from bows and curtain calls on their social media sites, so apparently they are happy to have these photographs, even though my friend was scolded by an audience member and usher and told that the dancers' union prohibits photos in the theatre.

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Ballet dancers often post photos from bows and curtain calls on their social media sites, so apparently they are happy to have these photographs, even though my friend was scolded by an audience member and usher and told that the dancers' union prohibits photos in the theatre.

This seems to vary by theater. At the Met, ushers are very fussy about the "no photography" rule before the performance, even just for audience members who want to record their presence in the theater. But during the bows, flashes go off constantly and nobody seems to be trying to stop that.

At the State Theater, ushers are adamant before, during, and after about their "no photography" rule.

I tried to take a picture of the theater for "Book of Mormon" long before the performance began, as there was a decorated stage exterior visible, and an usher immediately stopped me.

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Ballet dancers often post photos from bows and curtain calls on their social media sites, so apparently they are happy to have these photographs, even though my friend was scolded by an audience member and usher and told that the dancers' union prohibits photos in the theatre.

Most union contracts allow the dancer to control images of them -- companies have to get dancer approval on photos for the press, etc. It's tricky sometimes, in a theater that is also a tourist attraction, like the Met, but when you think about it, it's a workplace as well. If someone took a photo of you at work, and then posted it on their Facebook page, you might be fine with that, but you might not. And if you worked someplace where you had proprietary material on your desk, you'd be very concerned about casual photographs being circulated publicly.

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You are so right about adhering to union contracts, Sandik. I remember when I worked for one of the networks in NYC, we were interviewing Alicia Alonso in conjunction with her performances at the Met with her company. We wanted to insert some rehearsal footage etc.. Fortunately, our union people knew their people & were able to come to some understanding without endless red tape & paperwork. I must confess that it didn't feel as if I were working that day or the next morning in the green room. I was on cloud nine.

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I tried to take a picture of the theater for "Book of Mormon" long before the performance began, as there was a decorated stage exterior visible, and an usher immediately stopped me.

I've been told that there are copyright concerns with photograhs of scenic design elements, i.e. creating unauthorized reproductions of the set. The ushers have no way of knowing that the snapshots are going to be tucked lovingly into a personal album. If the pictures show up on a blog or website they can be used by anyone for any purpose.

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I've been told that there are copyright concerns with photograhs of scenic design elements, i.e. creating unauthorized reproductions of the set. The ushers have no way of knowing that the snapshots are going to be tucked lovingly into a personal album. If the pictures show up on a blog or website they can be used by anyone for any purpose.

Oh, for sure, and I suspect that was the explanation. But why are the Met Opera ushers so fussy? Nothing is visible on the stage in the way of copyrighted designs until the curtain calls, which they do nothing to stop people from photographing and videotaping. I've noticed several episodes when visitors just wanted a photograph of themselves standing in the theater before the performance and ushers rushed to stop them.

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But why are the Met Opera ushers so fussy? Nothing is visible on the stage in the way of copyrighted designs until the curtain calls, which they do nothing to stop people from photographing and videotaping. I've noticed several episodes when visitors just wanted a photograph of themselves standing in the theater before the performance and ushers rushed to stop them.

That does seem excessive -- like I said, it's tricky when a venue is both a theater and a tourist attraction -- think of all the photos people take outside the building with the Chagalls in the background...

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I hate having to deal with this problem, because it really takes away from the experience of watching the ballet - whether it's interrupting the ballet by asking them to stop, or suffering through it worrying if they'll stop.

A memorable experience for me was when I went to Hamburg aged 19 for my first ballet in Europe. I was at the ballet Nijinsky and it starts with the curtain up and a few dancers walking onstage. Then the lights go down, and the character of Romola enters, shortly followed by Nijinsky. It's silent at this point - so breathtakingly silent you can hear the dancers breathe if you're close enough. As the dancer playing Nijinsky walked dramatically down the stairs, I thought, 'Wow, you couldn't do this back home - someone's phone would go off! I guess these European audiences are much more sophisticated." Right on cue, a phone quite near me went off, and the ringtone was that horrific Crazy Frog thing. Illusion shattered.

(I should say that I've been to several performances there since and had absolutely no problems with audience behavior of any kind.)

I may have annoyed another audience member myself at another performance on that trip at the end of the first act of the same ballet. As the curtain began to fall I noticed a dancer I hadn't realized was there barely visible to the far left of the stage. I moved my head to see him, just a little, then a little more... When the lights went up, I noticed that, embarrassingly, my head was nearly in the lap of the person sitting next to me!

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But why are the Met Opera ushers so fussy? Nothing is visible on the stage in the way of copyrighted designs until the curtain calls, which they do nothing to stop people from photographing and videotaping. I've noticed several episodes when visitors just wanted a photograph of themselves standing in the theater before the performance and ushers rushed to stop them.

That does seem excessive -- like I said, it's tricky when a venue is both a theater and a tourist attraction -- think of all the photos people take outside the building with the Chagalls in the background...

On my most recent visit, I did notice several tourists taking pictures in the theater before the performance without hindrance from ushers. I guess it depends on the ushers! The bigger problem in the closing weeks of the season seems to be crying babies. I was there when one screamed out at the beginning of Julie Kent's White Swan and someone else reported on screams during Reyes' Sylvia. There is a soundproof "baby room" at the back of the orchestra (they show it to you on the Lincoln Center tour) and I wonder how swiftly ushers try to move people into that at the first outburst.

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Why are babies being brought to the theatre in the first place?

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There is a soundproof "baby room" at the back of the orchestra (they show it to you on the Lincoln Center tour) and I wonder how swiftly ushers try to move people into that at the first outburst.

They should move both mother and baby out the front door.

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Why are babies being brought to the theatre in the first place?

I rummaged around (briefly) on the NYCB, Met, and ABT sites and couldn't find any rules on age minimums, although I'm sure they say somewhere that everybody must have their own ticket, regardless of age. We took my sister's 3-year-old grandson to last year's Nutcracker at the Colorado Ballet, but made a point of sitting on an aisle so we could make a quick get-away if he acted up. (He didn't.) Nobody should have to be told to do that! And a matinee Nutcracker is swarming with little kids anyway (unlike Swan Lake).

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Why are babies being brought to the theatre in the first place?

I rummaged around (briefly) on the NYCB, Met, and ABT sites and couldn't find any rules on age minimums, although I'm sure they say somewhere that everybody must have their own ticket, regardless of age. We took my sister's 3-year-old grandson to last year's Nutcracker at the Colorado Ballet, but made a point of sitting on an aisle so we could make a quick get-away if he acted up. (He didn't.) Nobody should have to be told that! And a matinee Nutcracker is swarming with little kids anyway (unlike Swan Lake).

Toddlers are one thing at a Nutcracker (and would be expected). Babies have no business at any ballet because of their potential for disturbing the audience, the dancers and the musicians. Not fair to anyone attending or performing and no one can expect a baby to behave for 2-3 hours.

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I've been told that there are copyright concerns with photograhs of scenic design elements, i.e. creating unauthorized reproductions of the set. The ushers have no way of knowing that the snapshots are going to be tucked lovingly into a personal album. If the pictures show up on a blog or website they can be used by anyone for any purpose.

Oh, for sure, and I suspect that was the explanation. But why are the Met Opera ushers so fussy? Nothing is visible on the stage in the way of copyrighted designs until the curtain calls, which they do nothing to stop people from photographing and videotaping. I've noticed several episodes when visitors just wanted a photograph of themselves standing in the theater before the performance and ushers rushed to stop them.

I had the same experience at the Kennedy Center at an intermission when I was wanting to take a picture of my group with a dancer from Washington Ballet who had joined us. The usher rushed up and upbraided me quite harshly to stop taking pictures, and hadn't I heard the announcement? I tried to explain I assumed the announcement meant that I wasn't to take pictures during the performance, I didn't think it applied to taking a picture of my friends in row Y at the intermission, and she kept saying quite rudely "Didn't you hear the announcement?" as if I were some kind of idiot. This kind of treatment can also spoil one's evening at the ballet. Maybe we should start a thread on "usher behaviour". I had a run-in with a very rude one at the Met this May too.

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Maybe we should start a thread on "usher behaviour".

My nominee: any usher who seats people after the curtain goes up on a performance. They seem to think they are being nice to latecomers by breaking the rule about no late seating, and forget that they are disrupting the sightlines of many, many people. This is a HUGE problem at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House (where the Colorado Ballet performs), but it's happened to me in New York, too. I went to a Broadway show with a 7:00 curtain. At 8:00 sharp, the ushers let in a couple who had seats in center orchestra, front row, even though it was another 15 minutes to the intermission. Presumably, the couple mistakenly thought the performance started at 8, but that's no excuse for the usher. I don't recall this at NYCB or ABT performances in NYC, though.

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It is true certainly in France and the UK the auduience are much better mannered, and rerspect other peop[le's enjioyment oif the performance. However once in the Garnier Paris, a woman sitting behind my friend tapped him on the shoulder and told him to move down in his seat, he was no taller than others nearby , and did not speakFrench, so ignored her. Her attitude at the time was distincly rather bossy. had she been more amicable he might have obliged but the performance had already started and they were last minute arrivals.

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I haven't read through this thread entirely, so perhaps someone has made this point already, but isn't the problem with bringing babies solved when every person must hold a ticket, regardless of age? I know this is NYCB's policy.

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Some companies do have babes in arms policies for "Nutcracker" and family matinees or shortened versions appropriate for the attention span of younger children. (I've noticed that right befor the big Act II pas de deux in "Nutcracker" is a common time for kids to have had it and for families to bail.) For regular performances and companies where everyone must have a ticket, I'm sure the policy cuts down on the number of babies, because of the risk of wasting a lot of money for two tickets if the baby starts crying. However, given the number of crying babies in any program, although some where clearly the baby is there so that the parent can take a younger child to see "Cinderella," for example, it certainly doesn't stop people. Babies in general are more predictable that toddlers: parents can strategize around their sleep cycles, and I've been around scores of babies who slept through the act, were fed at intermission, and who settled in for the next act.

One of the most annoying experiences I've had was the one time I was at the Palais Garnier. (Everything else I've seen in Paris has been at the Bastille.). I had a front row seat in one of the ground level boxes. The seats in the boxes are moveable chairs, but each is numbered, and they are arranged in rows.

I take it it is impossible to see anything from the back row, because the young man in the back row kept encouraging his girlfriend -- literally pushing her chair forward -- to try to squeeze her way into the front row, and while there wasn't really enough room for one more, I would have been a lot more sympathetic and would have tried to aid her sightlines had they not treated this as the Tokyo subway.

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