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After the lights go up

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#1 Ed Waffle

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Posted 04 August 2001 - 10:47 AM

This is a question regarding encountering an artist after a performance. From the New York Times, in an article covering the opera and food travels of a couple:

“But despite the tepid reaction, Ferrara's "Macbeth" included the best single performance we saw on this trip: Francesca Patanè's Lady Macbeth, wild-eyed, dark-voiced, lithe (and sometimes naked). She was fabulous, and it was all we could do to stop ourselves from intruding on her postperformance supper around the corner from the opera house, where we also were dining, to tell her so.”

This has come up occasionally here in Motown and must also be the case wherever there are restaurants near performance venues—in other words, everywhere. For example, there is a lovely (and not inexpensive) restaurant close to the Detroit Opera House where we gather with a few friends, including members of the Michigan Opera Theatre chorus, after the last matinee of the spring and fall seasons.

It might seem that since the you are encountering the artist in such close proximity to the stage, and within a short time after you were giving her a standing ovation that she is still “in character.” However, unless you know that the person does not mind being approached by a fan under these circumstances discretion is almost always the better part of valor, especially when one has been really moved by a performance, whether in an opera, ballet or the spoken theater. The greater the sense of wonder and delight that the artist has created, the less articulate one would be—at least that has been my own experience. One exception was after “Samson and Delilah”—we recognized one of the principals in the restaurant and a chorus member we were with, who had studied with him, said that he enjoyed being recognized and signing programs, which seemed to be the case.

I wonder if others on the board agree, that artists encountered under these circumstances should be left alone, unless one has specific knowledge of their desires to the contrary.

This is different from running into someone away from the theater—Susan Jaffe in line at Barnes and Noble for example or Rene Fleming picking up her dry cleaning. Then a quick “You were wonderful in "-------" and sensational in "-------------" and we hope to see you again
in "-------------" might be appropriate.

[ 08-04-2001: Message edited by: Ed Waffle ]

#2 Steve Keeley

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Posted 04 August 2001 - 12:36 PM

I feel that a performer's obligation to me ends when the curtain comes down, and generally leave them alone.

This is different from running into someone away from the theater—Susan Jaffe in line at Barnes and Noble for example

Funny you should mention Susan Jaffe; after a performance of "Suzanne Farrell Stages Balanchine" at the Kennedy Center back in the Fall of '95, I was in line behind Jaffe waiting for a taxi (she had performed in the first ballet that evening) and we wound up sharing a cab. I waited until we reached her destination and she was getting out before I said anything.


#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 04 August 2001 - 07:59 PM

There's a way of simply telling someone how much you appreciated their performance or their work without intruding upon their personal life and believe me, it's appreciated! Everyone likes knowing they did a good job. A brief supportive comment can make a performer's day. The best way is not to linger unless they invite it. Say how much you enjoyed it, but then let them get on with what they were doing.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 04 August 2001 - 09:58 PM

The simple, effective way is to say, "Hey, good job, today!" Then, if it promotes further conversation, how much the better!

#5 felursus


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Posted 09 August 2001 - 11:23 PM

Here in NY we see performers in restaurants all the time after performances. People with good manners leave them alone. After all, it is their time to spend with friends. It seems to be the acceptable thing to congratulate them as they are leaving the restaurant, however. Autograph- seeking is frowned upon. My husband used to work in a building in which Robert Redford had rented office space, and my husband saw Redford quite frequently. They were even alone in an elevator on more than one occasion and had conversations on neutral topics. My husband never indicated that he had the remotest idea of who Redford was. It seemed to be appreciated. :D

#6 cargill


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Posted 10 August 2001 - 08:28 AM

This is off topic, but the mention of Robert Redford and pretending you don't know who a celebrity reminded me of this story, which I was told happened to a friend of a friend of mine. She was in the Hamptons in an ice cream store buying a cone and Jack Nichols was in front of her. She was determined not to act like a fan and to be very cool, so ordered her ice cream cone and left. When she got out, she didn't have her cone, so went back in and said they had forgotten to give it to her. "Yes, you have it". "No, I don't". "Lady, you put it in your purse."

#7 felursus


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Posted 10 August 2001 - 11:52 PM

That's a good one. I once virtually had to carry him: scene - The Royal Opera House; Time - June or July (i.e. light outside very late); Occasion - can't remember; I was an usherette on the Stalls Circle level. He and his party had seats in the stalls. They came late. He was very drunk and because they were late they could not be seated but could be put into the Stalls Circle. They were blinded by coming from brilliant summer sunshine into the dark opera house. He couldn't walk very well - ergo.... :D

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