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Bravo, Brava, Bravi


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31 replies to this topic

#1 Farrell Fan

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Posted 11 April 2002 - 10:03 AM

Related to the problem of applause is the question of Bravo. Long ago, I used to shout Bravo (never before the final curtain) at Edward Villella, say, or the conductor Robert Irving. When Suzanne Farrell took a solo curtain call, I would shout Brava. When she took one with Jacques d'Amboise or Peter Martins, I would shout Bravi. I was brought up speaking Italian as well as English, so I was doing what came naturally -- Bravo for a man, Brava for a woman, and Bravi for two or more people.

I came to realize that audience members without knowledge of Italian grammar might have thought I was acting superior. On one of my subscriptions there was a guy who, every time I yelled "Bravi!" would shout "Bravisssimo!" apparently under the impression I was using a superlative and going me one better. I recall a reference by Clive Barnes once, to a Bravo, Brava, Bravi shouter (not me), whom he considered, at best, quaint.

These days I don't do much shouting, limiting my expressions of approval to either polite or vigorous clapping. But I feel uncomfortable when a Darci Kistler or Kyra Nichols is greeted with enthusiastic cries of Bravo rather than Brava. Of course, with younger members of the audience, whoops and hollers have largely replaced Bravos. I have mixed feelings about that, but at least they are gender-neutral.

#2 Juliet

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Posted 11 April 2002 - 12:26 PM

"I came to realize that audience members without knowledge of Italian grammar might have thought I was acting superior. "

Why do you care what they think? If you like the performance, you can certainly express your appreciation in proper form without giving a hoot about anonymous opinions. That's the good part about being an adult: unless one is being publicly rude or offensive, one doesn't need to worry about others' opinions.

I don't think people who fall asleep and snore throughout performances worry about how others are perceiving them.

Unless you were specifically *trying* to show off by using the proper case, and yes. that's a trifle jejeune. There are a lot of people who speak Italian and I don't think most people in an audience would give your expressions a second thought.:cool:

#3 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 11 April 2002 - 04:04 PM

When the Washington Ballet does programs for children, like the morning Nuts shows, or the performances of things like Wild Things and Peter Pan which are geared for young audiences, the Artistic Director, Septime Webre, teaches them in his opening speech about Bravo, Bravi and Brava :cool: The children love knowing the difference, and you can hear them responding appropriately at the end of the show.

#4 Michael

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Posted 11 April 2002 - 07:26 PM

Bravo is easier to shout than Brava or Bravi. The "O" at the end carries and has a nice full, round sounding, sound to it. Bravo has to me a satisfying feel that Brava never has. The "O" bellows out more than any "Ah" or "EE".

I once thought of proposing something on the same subject FF but chickened out for some reason. When the slough of despond between seasons becomes deep, I have thought again of proposing this subject.

I think that dancers generally like it when they get a good loud ovation full of Bravos, Bravas and Bravi. They notice it, damn right, and they acknowledge it.

#5 BW

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 02:53 AM

Thank you Farrell Fan for bringing this up - I did know about the differences between Bravo and Brava but did not know the plural Bravi (bravee)!

I am more in the camp of vigorous and loud clapping. Now that I know the subtitles of the Italian, I may feel more inspired to put a voice to my opinions! :D

#6 casloan

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 05:33 PM

Thanks, Farrell Fan. I, too, know and employ the different Italian forms in voicing my approval. Alas, I have not had much use for them in recent years (except, now and then, at the opera). I'm sure "brava" and "bravi" must sound alien or quaint to many, but so be it.

Claudia

#7 Ed Waffle

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 02:44 PM

Among the small annoyances of attending the ballet or opera (especially opera) are the dolts who seem to insist on being the very first person to shout "Bravo", even if it is at an appropriate time. And when inappropriate....

Once at a performance of "Carmen" at the Michigan Opera Theatre, the announcement that Singer A would not be performing but would be replaced by singer B was greeted with a single, very loud "Bravo". As it happens, singer B is a local favorite who is getting a name for herself in the extremely crowded ranks of mezzos, but the person was essentially applauding the illness of singer A. He should have been stabbed by Don Jose.

#8 Doris R

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 03:49 PM

Several years ago I was in a hand-crafted card shop looking for an appropriate gift for my daughter -- they had a delightful card with "bravo!" printed on it. I asked if they had anything with "Brava!" and was told by the owner that there was no such thing -- just bravo. I didn't argue -- but I didn't buy his card either. (By the way, I just clap loudly and smile broadly.)

#9 BW

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 04:14 PM

Ed, nice image with Don Jose going for the throat!;) Your story reminds me of how I feel when I watch "the tennis" on TV, or in the flesh, when one of the players misses a shot - a hard one or an "easy' one:rolleyes: - easy for whom? It is so unsportmanlike! It really does annoy me! :mad:

As it's been said: "There's no accounting for taste"...manners, though, are often learned...but not always! I was just rereading Victoria's post about the children's programs at Washington Ballet in which they're taught the appropriate terms and times to call one's approval out loud.:cool:

Doris, good for you for using your ability to notspend your money on the card shop's sexist wares! ;) Your reply made me laugh - many thanks for that on this hot Summer's day!:D

#10 aubri

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 04:32 PM

And when you want to cheer a corps of girls let's shout BRAVE

#11 BW

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 04:37 PM

Aubri, do you mean "Brave" because they are brave, in the English sense of the word, to be dancing in the corps!?!:cool:

#12 aubri

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 04:38 PM

well that too, but really because the plural feminine for Brava is Brave

#13 BW

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 06:31 PM

Aubri, does this mean that brave is pronounced bravé and that "bravo" means the same thing in both French and Italian? In French if one were cheering a single person that was male, would it be "bravo" – and for a woman "brava"? Just trying to get this clear so I am sure to say the right thing. :cool:

#14 Estelle

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Posted 17 April 2002 - 01:45 AM

BW, in Italian "brave" is pronounced "bravé".

In France, people use only "bravo"; I think it's borrowed from Italian, but people use "bravo" whatever the gender or number of the people (and not "brava", "bravi" or "brave").

#15 Farrell Fan

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Posted 17 April 2002 - 06:28 AM

Aubri's knowledge of Italian grammar is impressive, and in print brave would certainly be the way to cheer for a group of women or girls, whichever you prefer. But Michael said something a while back about the sound of the o in bravo providing a more satisfying bellow than ah or ee in brava and bravi. In the case of brave, unlike the other three, shouted in an audience it wouldn't sound like an exclamation of approval at all: bravOH! bravAH! bravEE! BravEH?


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